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Full text of "Epistolae Ho-Elianae : the familiar letters of James Howell"

EPISTOL^ HO-ELIAN^ 




^O/rro^^ 'yLrMMe^ 



JAMES HOWELL 



FROM AN ENGRAVING BY CLAUDE MELAN AND E. 

BESAC. USED AS A FRONTISPIECE FOR THE FIRST 

EDITION (1664.) OF HOWELL'S <<A DISCOURSE 

CONCERNING THE PRECEDENCY OF KINGS'' 



Cpistolae Ho^Clianae 



THE FAMILIAR LETTERS 



OF 



3}amt0 HotDell 



With an Introduction by Agnes Repplier 



VOL. IV 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

MDCCCCVII 



COPYRIGHT 1907 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



THIS EDITION CONSISTS OF TWO HUNDRED AND 
TWENTY COPIES OF WHICH THIS IS NUMBER ZS^ 



EPISTOLiE HO-ELIANiE 
SECTION VIII 

FAMILIAR LETTERS OF A FRESHER DATE 



BOOK III 
SECTION VIII 



To the Right Hon, Edward Earl of Dorset 
[Lord Chamberlain of His Majesty's House- 
hold , etc.)y at Knowles 

My Lord, 

HAVING so advantageous a hand as Doctor 
S. Turner, I am bold to send your Lord- 
ship a new tract of French philosophy called 
"L'Usage de Passions," which is cried up to be 
a choice piece. It is a moral discourse of the right 
use of passions, the conduct whereof, as it is the 
principal employment of virtue, so the conquest 
of them is the difficultest part of valour. To know 
one's self is much, but to conquer one's self is 
more. We need not pick quarrels and seek ene- 
mies without doors, we have too many inmates at 
home to exercise our prowess upon ; and there is 
no man, let him have his humours never so well 
balanced and in subjection unto him, but like 
Muscovy wives, they will oftentimes insult, unless 
they be checked, yet we should make them our 
servants not our slaves. Touching the occur- 
rences of the times, since the King was snatched 



4 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

away from the Parliament, the army, they say, use 
him with more civility and freedom ; but for the 
main work of restoring him, he is yet, as one may 
say, but tantalised, being brought often within the 
sight of London, and so off again. There are 
hopes that something will be done to his advan- 
tage speedily, because the gregarian soldiers and 
gross of the army is well affected to him, though 
some of the chiefest commanders be still adverse. 
For foreign news, they say St Mark bears up 
stoutly against Mahommed both by land and sea. 
In Dalmatia he hath of late shaken him by the 
turban ill-favouredly. I could heartily wish that 
our army here were there to help the republic and 
combat the common enemy, for then one might 
be sure to die in the bed of honour. The com- 
motions in Sicily are quashed, but those of Naples 
increase, and it is like to be a more raging and vo- 
racious fire than Vesuvius or any of the sulphur- 
ous mountains about her did ever belch out. The 
Catalan and Portuguese bait the Spaniard on both 
sides, but the first hath shrewder teeth than the 
other, and the French and Hollander find him 
work in Flanders. And now, my lord, to take all 
nations in a lump, I think God Almighty hath a 
quarrel lately with all mankind, and given the reins 
to the ill spirit to compass the whole earth, for 
within these twelve years there have the strangest 
revolutions and horridest things happened, not 
only in Europe, but all the world over, that have 
befallen mankind, I dare boldly say, 'since Adam 



OF JAMES HOWELL 5 

fell, in so short a revolution of time. There is 
a kind of popular planet reigns everywhere. I will 
begin with the hottest parts, with Africa, where 
the Emperor of Ethiopia (with two of his sons) 
was encountered and killed in open field by the 
groom of his camels and dromedaries, who had 
levied an army out of the dregs of the people 
against him, and is like to hold that ancient em- 
pire. In Asia the Tartar broke over the four hun- 
dred miled wall, and rushed into the heart of 
China as far as Quinzay and beleaguered the very 
palace of the Emperor, who rather than become 
captive to the base Tartar burnt his castle and did 
make away himself, his thirty wives and children. 
The great Turk hath been lately strangled in the 
seraglio, his own house. The Emperor of Mus- 
covy, going in a solemn procession upon the 
Sabbath day, the rabble broke in, knocked down, 
and cut in pieces divers of his chiefest councillors, 
favourites and officers before his face, and drag- 
ging their bodies to the market-place, their heads 
were chopped off, thrown into vessels of hot water, 
and so set upon poles to burn more bright before 
the court gate. In Naples a common fruiterer hath 
raised such an insurrection, that they say above 
sixty men have been slain already upon the streets 
of that city alone. Catalonia and Portugal have 
quite revolted from Spain. Your Lordship knows 
what knocks have been betwixt the Pope and 
Parma. The Pole and the Cossacks are hard at it ; 
Venice wrestleth with the Turk, and is like to 



6 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

lose her maidenhead unto him, unless other Chris- 
tian princes look to it in time; and touching these 
three kingdoms, there is none more capable than 
your Lordship to judge what monstrous things 
have happened ; so that it seems the whole earth 
is off the hinges, and (which is the more wonder- 
ful) all these prodigious passages have fallen out in 
less than the compass of twelve years. But now 
that all the world is together by the ears, the States 
of Holland would be quiet, for advice is come 
that the peace is concluded, and interchangeably 
ratified betwixt them and Spain, but they defer 
the publishing of it yet, till they have collected all 
the contribution money for the army. The Span- 
iard hopes that one day this peace may tend to his 
advantage more than all his wars have done these 
fourscore years, relying upon the old prophecy — 

Marte triumphabis, Batavia, Pace peribis. 

The King of Denmark hath buried lately his 
eldest son Christian, so that he hath now but one 
living, viz. Frederic, who is Archbishop of Breme, 
and is shortly to be king-elect. 

My Lord, this letter runs upon universals, be- 
cause I know your Lordship hath a public great 
soul, and a spacious understanding, which compre- 
hends the whole world ; so in a due posture of 
humility I kiss your hands, being, my Lord, your 
most obedient and most faithful servitor, 

J. H. 

From the Fleet, this 20 of January 164.6. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 7 

II 

To Mr En, P., at Paris 

SINCE we have both agreed to truck intelli- 
gence, and that you are contented to barter 
French for English, I shall be careful to send 
you hence from time to time the currentest and 
most staple stuff I can find, with weight and good 
measure to boot. I know in that more subtle air 
of yours, tinsel sometimes passes for tissue, Ven- 
ice beads for pearl, and demicastors for beavers ; 
but I know you have so discerning a judgment 
that you will not suffer yourself to be so cheated 
— they must rise betimes that can put tricks 
upon you, and make you take semblances for 
realities, probabilities for certainties, or spurious 
for true things. To hold this literal correspond- 
ence I desire but the parings of your time, that 
you may have something to do when you have 
nothing else to do, while I make a business of it 
to be punctual in my answers to you, let our 
letters be as echoes, let them bound back and 
make mutual repercussions. I know you that 
breathe upon the Continent have clearer echoes 
there : witness that in the Tuileries, especially 
that at Charenton Bridge, which quivers and ren- 
ders the voice ten times when it is open weather, 
and it were a virtuous curiosity to try it. 

For news, the world is here turned upside down, 



8 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

and It hath been long agoing so. You know, a 
good while since we have had leather caps and 
beaver shoes, but now the arms are come to be 
legs, for bishops* lawn sleeves are worn for boot- 
hose tops ; the waist is come to the knee, for the 
points that were used to be about the middle are 
now dangling there ; boots and shoes are so long 
snouted that one <5an hardly kneel in God's house, 
where all genuflection and postures of devotion 
and decency are quite out of use. The devil may 
walk freely up and down the streets of London 
now, for there is not a cross to frighten him any- 
where, and it seems he was never so busy in any 
country upon earth, for there have been more 
witches arraigned and executed here lately than 
ever were in this island since the Creation. 

I have no more to communicate unto you at 
this time, and this is too much unless it were bet- 
ter. God Almighty send us patience, you in your 
banishment, me in my captivity, and give us 
heaven for our last country, where desires turn to 
fruition, doubts to certitudes, and dark thoughts 
to clear contemplations. Truly, my dear Don 
Antonio, as the times are, I take little content- 
ment to live among the elements, and (were it my 
Maker's pleasure) I could willingly, had I quit 
scores with the world, make my last account with 
nature, and return this small skinful of bones to 
my common mother. If I chance to do so before 
you, I love you so entirely well that my spirit 
shall visit you, to bring you some tidings from the 



OF JAMES HOWELL 9 

other world ; and if you precede me, I shall ex- 
pect the like from you, which you may do without 
affrighting me, for I know your spirit will be a bo- 
nus genius. So, desiring to know what is become of 
my manuscript, I kiss your hand, and rest most 
passionately your faithful servitor, J. H. 

The Fleet, 20 February 164.6. 

Ill 

To Master W. B. 

1HAD yours of the last week, and by reason 
of some sudden encumbrances I could not 
correspond with you by that carrier. As for your 
desire to know the pedigree and first rise of those 
we call Presbyterians, I find that your motion hath 
as much of piety as curiosity in it, but I must tell 
you it is a subject fitter for a treatise than a letter, 
yet I will endeavour to satisfy you in some part. 
Touching the word TrpealSvTepo^, it is as ancient 
as Christianity itself, and every Churchman com- 
pleted in holy orders was called presbyter, as 
being the chiefest name of the function, and so 
it is used in all Churches, both Eastern and Occi- 
dental, to this day. We by contraction call him 
priest, so that all bishops and archbishops are 
priests, though not vice versa. These holy titles 
of bishop and priest are now grown odious among 
such poor sciolists who scarce know the Hotie*s of 
things, because they savour of antiquity. Though 



lo FAMILIAR LETTERS 

their minister that officiates In their church be the 
same thing as priest, and their superintendent the 
same thing as bishop, but because they are lovers 
of novelties, they change old Greek words for new 
Latin ones. The first broacher of the Presbyterian 
religion, and who made it differ from that of Rome 
and Luther, was Calvin, who, being once banished 
Geneva, was revoked, at which time he no less 
petulantly than profanely applied to himself that 
text of the holy prophet which was meant of 
Christ, "The stone which the builders refused is 
made the headstone of the corner," etc. Thus 
Geneva Lake swallowed up the Episcopal See, 
and Church lands were made secular, which was 
the white they levelled at. This Geneva bird flew 
thence to France and hatched the Huguenots, 
which make about the tenth part of that people. 
It took wing also to Bohemia and Germany, High 
and Low, as the Palatinate, the land of Hesse, 
and the confederate provinces of the States of Hol- 
land, whence it took flight to Scotland and Eng- 
land. It took first footing in Scotland, when King 
James was a child in his cradle ; but when he came 
to understand himself, and was manumitted from 
Buchanan, he grew cold in it, and being come to 
England, he utterly disclaimed It, terming it In a 
public speech of his to the Parliament a sect rather 
than a religion. To this sect may be imputed all 
the scissures that have happened in Christianity, 
with most of the wars that have lacerated poor 
Europe ever since, and It may be called the source 



OF JAMES HOWELL ii 

of the civil distractions that now afflict this poor 
island. 

Thus have I endeavoured to fulfil your desires 
in part. I shall enlarge myself further when I shall 
be made happy with your conversation here, till 
when, and always, I rest yours most affectionately 
to love and serve you, J. H. 

From the Fleet, this 29 of November 1647. 

IV 

To Sir y. 5., Knight, at Rouen 

OF all the blessings that ever dropped down 
from heaven upon man, that of his redemp- 
tion may be called the blessing paramount ; and of 
all those comforts and exercises of devotion which 
attend that blessing, the Eucharist or Holy Sacra- 
ment may claim the prime place. But as there is 
devotion, so there is danger in it, and that in the 
highest degree. It is rank poison to some, though 
a most sovereign cordial to others, ad modum recipi- 
entis, as the schoolmen say, whether they t2i^tpanem 
Dominum, as the Roman C^,tho\iCy or pan em Domini, 
as the Reformed Churches. The bee and the spider 
suck honey and poison out of one flower. 
This, sir, you have divinely expressed in the poem 
you pleased to send me upon this subject, and 
whereas you seem to woo my muse to such a task, 
something you may see she hath done in pure 
obedience only to your commands. 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



Upon the Holy Sacrament 



Hail, Holy Sacrament, 
The world's great wonderment, 
Mysterious banquet, much more rare 
Than manna, or the angels' fare ; 
Each crumb, though sinners on thee feed. 
Doth Cleopatra's pearl exceed. 
Oh, how my soul doth hunger, thirst and pine 
After these cates so precious, so divine! 



She need not bring her stool 
As some unbidden fool ; 
The Master of this heavenly feast 
Invites and wooes her for His guest ; 
Though deaf and lame, forlorn and blind. 
Yet welcome here she 's sure to find. 
So that she bring a vestment for the day. 
And her old tattered rags throw quite away. 

3 

This is Bethesda's pool 
That can both cleanse and cool 
Poor leprous and diseased souls ; 
An angel here keeps and controls. 
Descending gently from the heavens above 
To stir the waters, may he also move 
My mind, and rocky heart so strike and rend. 
That tears may thence gush out with them to blend. 

This morning-fancy drew on another towards 
the evening, as followeth — 



OF JAMES HOWELL 13 

As to the pole the lily bends 

In a sea-compass, and still tends 

By a magnetic mystery 

Unto the Arctic point in sky. 

Whereby the wand' ring piloteer. 

His course in gloomy nights doth steer; 

So the small needle of my heart 
Moves to her Maker, who doth dart 
Atoms of love, and so attracts 
All my affections, which like sparks 

Fly up, and guide my soul by this 

To the true centre of her bliss. 

As one taper lighteth another, so were my 
spirits enlightened and heated by your late medita- 
tions in this kind ; and well fare your soul with 
all her faculties for them. I find you have a great 
care of her and of the main chance, prae quo quis- 
quiliae caetera. You shall hear further from me 
within a few days. In the interim be pleased to re- 
serve still in your thoughts some little room for 
your most entirely affectionate servitor, J. H. 

From the Fleet, lo of December 1647. 



V 

To Mr, r. /F., at P. Castle 

My Precious Tom, 

HE is the happy man who can square his mind 
to his means, and fit his fancy to his fortune. 
He who hath a competency to live in the port of 



14 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

a gentleman, and as he is free from being a head 
constable, so he cares not for being a justice of 
peace or sheriff. He who is beforehand with the 
world, and when he comes to London can whet 
his knife at the counter-gate and needs not trudge 
either to a lawyer's study or scrivener's shop to 
pay fee or squeeze wax. It is conceit chiefly that 
gives contentment, and he is happy who thinks 
himself so in any condition, though he have not 
enough to keep the wolf from the door. Opinion 
is that great lady which sways the world, and 
according to the impressions she makes in the 
mind, renders one contented or discontented. Now 
touching opinion, so various are the intellectuals 
of human creatures that one can hardly find out 
two who jump pat in one. Witness that monster 
in Scotland in James the Fourth's reign, with two 
heads, one opposite to the other, and having but 
one bulk of body throughout. These two heads 
would often fall into altercations pro and con one 
with the other, and seldom were they of one opin- 
ion, but they would knock one against the other 
in eager disputes, which shows that the judgment 
is seated in the animal parts, not in the vital, 
which are lodged in the heart. 

We are still in a turbulent sea of distractions, 
nor as far as I see is there yet any sight of shore. 
Mr. T. M. hath had a great loss at sea lately, 
which, I fear, will light heavily upon him. When 
I consider his case, I may say that as the philo- 
sopher made a question whether the mariner be to 



OF JAMES HOWELL 15 

be ranked among the number of the living or dead 
(being but four inches distant from drowning, only 
the thickness of a plank), so it is a doubt whether 
the merchant adventurer be to be numbered be- 
twixt the rich or the poor, his estate being in the 
mercy of that devouring element the sea, which 
hath so good a stomach that he seldom casts up 
what he hath once swallowed. This city hath bred 
of late years men of monstrous strange opinions, 
that as all other rich places besides, she may be 
compared to a fat cheese, which is most subject to 
engender maggots. God amend all, and me first, 
who am yours most faithfully to serve you. 
Fleet, this St Thos. day. J. H. 

VI 

To Mr W. Blots 

My Worthy Esteemed Nephew, 

1 RECEIVED those rich nuptial favours you 
appointed me for bands and hat, which I wear 
with very much contentment and respect, most 
heartily wishing that this late double condition 
may multiply new blessings upon you, that it may 
usher in fair and golden days, according to the 
colour and substance of your bridal riband, that 
those days may be perfumed with delight and 
pleasure, as the rich scented gloves I wear for your 
sake. May such benedictions attend you both, as 
the epithalamiums of Stella in Statius and Julia in 



i6 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Catullus speak of. I hope also to be married shortly 
to a lady whom I have wooed above these five 
years, but I have found her coy and dainty hitherto, 
yet I am now like to get her good will in part — 
I mean the lady liberty. 

Wheji you see my N. Brownrigg, I pray tell 
him that I did not think Suffolk waters had such 
a lethean quality in them as to cause such an am- 
nestia in him of his friends here upon the Thames, 
among whom for reality and seriousness I may 
match among the foremost, but I impute it to 
some new task that his muse might haply impose 
upon him, which hath ingrossed all his specula- 
tions ; I pray present my cordial kind respects 
unto him. 

So, praying that a thousand blisses may attend 
this confarreation, I rest, my dear nephew, yours 
most affectionately to love and serve you, J. H. 

From the Fleet, this 20 of March 1647. 

VII 

To Henry Hopkins^ Esq. 

TO usher in again old Janus, I send you a par- 
cel of Indian perfume, which the Spaniard 
calls the holy herb, in regard of the various virtues 
It hath, but we call it tobacco. I will not say it 
grew under the King of Spain's window, but I am 
told it was gathered near his gold mines of Potosi 
(where they report that in some places there is more 



OF JAMES HOWELL 17 

of that ore than earth), therefore it must needs 
be precious stuff. If moderately and seasonably 
taken (as I find you always do), it is good for many 
things ; it helps digestion taken awhile after meat, 
it makes one void rheume, break wind, and keeps 
the body open. A leaf or two being steeped over- 
night in a little white wine is a vomit that never 
fails in its operation. It is a good companion to 
one that converseth with dead men, for if one 
hath been poring long upon a book, or is toiled 
with the pen and stupefied with study, it quicken- 
eth him, and dispels those clouds that usually 
overset the brain. The smoke of it is one of the 
wholesomest scents that is against all contagious 
airs, for it overmasters all other smells, as King 
James, they say, found true when, being once 
ahunting, a shower of rain drove him into a pig- 
sty for shelter, where he caused a pipeful to be 
taken on purpose. It cannot endure a spider or 
a flea, with such-like vermin, and if your hawk 
be troubled with any such, being blown into his 
feathers it frees him. It is good to fortify and 
preserve the sight, the smoke being let in round 
about the balls of the eyes once a week, and frees 
them from all rheums, driving them back by way 
of repercussion. Being taken backward, it is ex- 
cellent good against the cholic, and taken into the 
stomach, it will heat and cleanse it ; for I could 
instance in a great lord (my Lord of Sunderland, 
President of York), who told me that he taking it 
downward into his stomach, it made him cast up 



1 8 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

an impostume, bag and all, which had been a long 
time engendering out of a bruise he had received 
at football, and so preserved his life for many years. 
Now to descend from the substance of the smoke to 
the ashes, it is well known that the medicinal vir- 
tues thereof are very many but they are so common 
that I will spare the inserting of them here. But 
if one would try a petty conclusion how much 
smoke there is in a pound of tobacco, the ashes 
will tell him, for let a pound be exactly weighed, 
and the ashes kept charily and weighed afterward, 
what wants of a pound weight in the ashes cannot 
be denied to have been smoke, which evaporated 
into air. I have been told that Sir Walter Raleigh 
won a wager of Queen Elizabeth upon this nicety. 
The Spaniards and Irish take it most in powder 
or smutchin, and it mightily refreshes the brain, 
and I believe there is as much taken this way in 
Ireland as there is in pipes in England. One shall 
commonly see the serving-maid upon the washing 
block, and the swain upon the plough-share, when 
they, overtired with labour, take out their boxes 
of smutchin and draw it into their nostrils with 
a quill, and it will beget new spirits in them, 
with a fresh vigour to fall to their work again. In 
Barbary and other parts of Africa it is wonderful 
what a small pill of tobacco will do, for those who 
use to ride post through the sandy deserts, where 
they meet not with anything that is potable or 
edible sometimes three days together, they use to 
carry small balls or pills of tobacco, which being 



OF JAMES HOWELL 19 

put under the tongue, it affords them a perpetual 
moisture, and takes off the edge of the appetite 
for some days. 

If you desire to read with pleasure all the virtues 
of this modern herb, you must read Doctor Thorus* 
Foetologia^ an accurate piece couched in a strenu- 
ous heroic verse full of matter, and continuing its 
strength from first to last, insomuch that for the 
bigness it may be compared to any piece of anti- 
quity, and in my opinion is beyond Barpaxofivo- 
fiaxCay or yaXew/xuo/Aa^ta. 

So I conclude these rambling notions, presum- 
ing you will accept this small argument of my great 
respects unto you. If you want paper to hght your 
pipe, this letter may serve the turn, and if it be 
true what the poets frequently sing, that affection 
is fire, you shall need no other than the clear flames 
of the donor's love to make ignition, which is com- 
prehended in this distich — 

Ignis amor si fit, tobaccum accendere nostrum. 
Nulla petenda tibi fax nisi dantis amor. 

If love be fire, to light this Indian weed. 
The donor's love of fire may stand in stead. 

So I wish you, as to myself, a most happy New 
Year ; may the beginning be good, the middle bet- 
ter, and the end best of all. — Your most faithful 
and truly affectionate servant, 

J. H. 

Fleet, I January 164.6. 



20 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

VIII 

To the Right Honourable my Lord of D. 

My Lord, 

THE subject of this letter may perad venture 
seem a paradox to some, but not, I know, 
to your Lordship, when you have pleased to weigh 
well the reasons. Learning is a thing that hath 
been much cried up and coveted in all ages, es- 
pecially in this last century of years, by people 
of all sorts, though ever so mean and mechanical. 
Every man strains his fortunes to keep his chil- 
dren at school. The cobbler will clout it till mid- 
night, the porter will carry burdens till his bones 
crack again, the ploughman will pinch both back 
and belly to give his son learning, and I find that 
this ambition reigns nowhere so much as In this is- 
land. But under favour, this word learning is taken 
in a narrower sense among us than among other 
nations. We seem to restrain it only to the book, 
whereas, indeed, any artisan whatsoever (if he know 
the secret and mystery of his trade) may be called 
a learned man — a good mason, a good shoemaker, 
that can manage Saint Crispin*s lance handsomely, 
a skilful yeoman, a good shipwright, etc., may be 
all called learned men, and indeed the usefulest sort 
of learned men, for without the two first we might 
go barefoot and lie abroad as beasts, having no other 
canopy than the wild air, and without the two last 



OF JAMES HOWELL ai 

we might starve for bread, have no commerce with 
other nations, or ever be able to tread upon a con- 
tinent. These, with such-like dexterous artisans, 
may be termed learned men, and the more behove- 
ful for the subsistence of a country than those poly- 
mathists that stand poring all day in a corner upon 
a moth-eaten author, and converse only with dead 
men. The Chinese (who are the next neighbours 
to the rising sun on this side of the hemisphere, and 
consequently the acutest) have a wholesome piece 
of policy, that the son is always of the father's trade, 
and it is all the learning he aims at, which makes 
them admirable artisans, for besides the dexterous- 
ness and propensity of the child, being descended 
lineally from so many of the same trade, the father 
is more careful to instruct him, and to discover 
unto him all the mystery thereof: this general 
custom or law keeps their heads from running at 
random after book learning and other vocations. 
I have read a tale of Rob. Grosthead, Bishop of 
Lincoln, that, being come to this greatness, he 
had a brother who was a husbandman, and expected 
great matters from him in point of preferment, but 
the Bishop told him that if he wanted money to 
mend his plough or his cart, or to buy tacklings for 
his horses, with other things belonging to his hus- 
bandry, he should not want what was fitting ; but 
he wished him to aim no higher, for a husbandman 
he found him and a husbandman he would leave 
him. 

The extravagant humour of our country is not 



22 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

to be altogether commended, that all men should 
aspire to book learning. There is not a simpler 
animal, and a more superfluous member of a state, 
than a mere scholar, than an only self-pleasing 
student ; he is 

Telluris inutile pondus. 

The Goths forbore to destroy the libraries of 
the Greeks and Italians because books should keep 
them still soft, simple or too cautious in warlike 
affairs. Archimedes, though an excellent engineer, 
when Syracuse was lost, was found at his book in 
his study, intoxicated with speculations. Who 
would not have thought another great learned 
philosopher to be a fool or frantic when, being in 
a bath, he leaped out naked among the people and 
cried, " I have found it ; I have found it," having 
hit then upon an extraordinary conclusion in geo- 
metry ! There is a famous tale of Thomas Aquinas, 
the Angelical Doctor, and of Bonadventure, the 
Seraphical Doctor, of whom Alex. Hales (our 
countryman and his master) reports that it appeared 
not in him whether Adam had sinned : Both 
these great clerks being invited ' to dinner by the 
French King of purpose to observe their humours, 
and being brought to the room where the table 
was laid, the first fell a-eating of bread as hard as 
he could drive. At last, breaking out of a brown 
study, he cried out, " Conclusum est contra Mani- 
chaeos." The other fell a-gazing upon the Queen, 
and the King asking him how he liked her. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 23 

he answered, "Oh, sir, if an earthly queen be so 
beautiful, what shall we think of the Queen of 
Heaven ? " The latter was the better courtier of 
the two. Hence we may infer that your mere book- 
men, your deep clerks, whom we call the only 
learned men, are not always the civilest or the 
best moral men, nor is too great a number of them 
convenient for any state, leading a soft sedentary 
life, specially those who feed their own fancies only 
upon the public stock. Therefore it were to be 
wished that there reigned not among the people 
of this land such a general itching after book learn- 
ing, and I believe so many free schools do rather 
hurt than good. Nor did the art of printing much 
avail the Christian commonwealth, but may be 
said to be well near as fatal as gunpowder, which 
came up in the same age. For, under correction, 
to this may be partly ascribed that spiritual pride, 
that variety of dogmatists which swarm among us. 
Add hereunto that the excessive number of those 
who converse only with books, and whose pro- 
fession consists in them, is such that one cannot 
live for another, according to the dignity of the 
calling. A physician cannot live for the physicians, 
a lawyer (civil and common) cannot live for law- 
yers, nor a divine for divines. Moreover, the 
multitudes that profess these three best vocations, 
especially the last, make them of far less esteem. 
There is an odd opinion among us, that he who 
is a contemplative man, a man who weds himself 
to his study, and swallows many books, must needs 



24 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

be a profound scholar, and a great learned man, 
though in reality he be such a dolt that he hath 
neither a retentive faculty to keep what he hath 
read, nor wit to make any useful application of it 
in common discourse ; what he draws in lieth upon 
dead lees, and never grows fit to. be broached. 
Besides, he may want judgment in the choice of 
his authors, and knows not how to turn his hand 
either in weighing or winnowing the fondest opin- 
ions. There are divers who are cried up for great 
clerks who want discretion. Others, though they 
wade deep into the causes and knowledge of things, 
yet they are subject to screw up their wits, and 
soar so high that they lose themselves in their own 
speculations ; for thinking to transcend the ordin- 
ary pitch of reason, they come to involve the 
common principles of philosophy in a mist. In- 
stead of illustrating things, they render them more 
obscure ; instead of a plainer and shorter way to 
the palace of knowledge, they lead us through briary 
odd uncouth paths, and so fall into the fallacy 
called notumper ignotius. Some have the hap to be 
termed learned men though they have gathered up 
but the scraps of knowledge here and there, though 
they be but smatterers and mere sciolists scarce 
knowing the Hoties of things ; yet like empty 
casks if they can make a sound, and have a gift 
to vent with confidence what they have sucked in, 
they are accounted great scholars. Amongst all 
book-learned men, except the divine, to whom all 
learned men should be lackeys, the philosopher 



OF JAMES HOWELL 25 

who hath waded through all the mathematics, who 
hath dived into the secrets of the elementary world, 
and converseth also with celestial bodies, may be 
termed a learned man. The critical historian and 
antiquary may be called also a learned man, who 
hath conversed with our forefathers, and observed 
the carriage and contingencies of matters past, 
whence he draws instances and cautions for the 
benefit of the times he lives in. The civilian may 
be called likewise a learned man if the revolving 
of huge volumes may entitle one so ; but touching 
the authors of the common law, which is peculiar 
only to this meridian, they " may be all carried in 
a wheelbarrow," as my countryman Doctor Gwyn 
told Judge Finch. The physician must needs be 
a learned man, for he knows himself inward and 
outward, being well versed in autology, in that 
lesson " Nosce Teipsum," and as Adrian the Sixth 
said, he is very necessary to a populous country, 
for " were it not for the physician, men would live 
so long and grow so thick, that one could not 
live for the other, and he makes the earth cover 
all his faults." 

But what Doctor Gwyn said of the common 
law books, and Pope Adrian of the physician, 
was spoken, I conceive, in merriment; for my part, 
I honour those two worthy professions in a high 
degree. Lastly, a polyglot or good linguist may 
be also termed a useful learned man, especially if 
versed in school languages. 

My Lord, I know none of this age more capable 



!26 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

to sit in the chair, and censure what is true learn- 
ing, and what not, than yourself; therefore, in 
speaking of this subject to your Lordship, I fear to 
have committed the same error as Phormio did 
in discoursing of war before Hannibal. No more 
now, but that I am, my Lord, your most humble 
and obedient servant, 

J.H. 

IX 

To Doctor y. D. 

1H AVE many sorts of civilities to thank you 
for, but among the rest I thank you a thousand 
times (twice told) for that delightful fit of society 
and conference of notes we had lately in this little 
Fleet cabin of mine upon divers problems, and upon 
some which are exploded (and that by those who 
seem to sway most in the commonwealth of learning) 
for paradoxes merely by an implicit faith without 
diving at all into the reasons of the assertors. And 
whereas you promised a further expression of your- 
self by way of a discursive letter what you thought 
of Copernicus' opinion touching the movement 
of the earth which hath so stirred all our modern 
wits, and whereof Sir J. Brown pleased to oblige 
himself to do the like touching the philosopher's 
stone, the powder of projection and potable gold, 
provided that I would do the same concerning a 
peopled country, and a species of moving creatures 



OF JAMES HOWELL 27 

in the concave of the moon, which I willingly 
undertook upon those conditions, to acquit myself 
of this obligation, and to draw on your performances 
the sooner, I have adventured to send you this fol- 
lowing discourse (such as it is) touching the lunary 
world. 

I believe it is a principle which not many will 
offer to controvert, that as antiquity cannot privilege 
an error, so novelty cannot prejudice truth. Now, 
truth hath her degrees of growing and expanding 
herself as all other things have, and as time begets 
her, so he doth the obstetritious office of a midwife 
to bring her forth. Many truths are but embryos 
or problems, nay, some of them seem to be mere 
paradoxes at first. The opinion that there were 
antipodes was exploded when it was first broached, 
it was held absurd and ridiculous, and the thing 
itself to be as impossible as it was for men to go 
upon their heads with their heels upwards, nay, it 
was adjudged to be so dangerous a tenet, that you 
know well the bishop's name who in the primitive 
Church was by sentence of condemnation sent out 
of this world without a head to go to and dwell 
amongst his antipodes, because he first hatched 
and held that opinion. But now our late navigators 
and East India mariners who use to cross the 
equator and tropics so often will tell you, that it 
is as gross a paradox to hold there are no anti- 
podes, and that the negative is now as absurd as 
the affirmative seemed at first : for man to walk 
upon the ocean when the surges were at the high- 



28 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

est, and to make a heavy dull piece of wood to 
swim, nay fly upon the water was held as imposs- 
ible a thing at first, as it is now thought impossible 
for man to fly in the air : sails were held then as 
uncouth as if one should attempt to make himself 
wings to mount up to heaven ^ la voVee, Two 
hundred and odd years ago he would have been 
taken for some frantic fool that would undertake 
to batter and blow up a castle with a few barrels of 
a small contemptible black powder. 

The great Architect of the world hath been ob- 
served not to throw down all gifts and knowledge 
to mankind confusedly at once, but in a regular, 
parsimonious method, to dispense them by certain 
degrees, periods and progress of time, leaving man 
to make industrious researches and investigations 
after truth. He left the world to the disputations 
of men, as the wisest of men saith, who in acqui- 
sition of natural truths went from the hyssop to 
the cedar. One day certifieth another, and one age 
rectifieth another. The morrow hath more expe- 
rience than the precedent day, and is ofttimes able 
to be his schoolmaster. The grandchild laughs 
at some things that were done in his grandsire's 
days, insomuch that hence it may be inferred that 
natural human knowledge is not yet mounted to 
its meridian and highest point of elevation. I 
confess it cannot be denied without gross ingrati- 
tude but we are infinitely obliged to our fore- 
fathers for the fundamentals of sciences ; and as 
the herald hath a rule Mallem cum patribuSy quam 



OF JAMES HOWELL 29 

cum fratrihus errare^ I had rather err with my 
fathers than brothers ; so it holds in other kinds 
of knowledge. But those times which we term 
vulgarly the old world, were indeed the youth or 
adolescence of it ; and though if respect be had to 
the particular and personal acts of generation, and 
to the relation of father and son, they who fore- 
lived and preceded us may be called our ancestors, 
yet if you go to the age of the world in general, 
and to the true length and longevity of things, we 
are more properly the older cosmopolites. In this 
respect the cadet may be termed more ancient 
than his elder brother, because the world was older 
when he entered into it. Moreover, besides truth, 
time hath also another daughter, which is experi- 
ence, who holds in her hands the great looking- 
glass of wisdom and knowledge. 

But now to the intended task, touching a habit- 
able world, and a species of living creatures in the 
orb of the moon, which may bear some analogy 
with those of this elementary world. Although it be 
not my purpose to maintain and absolutely assert 
this problem, yet I will say this, that whosoever 
crieth it down for a new neoterical opinion, as 
divers do, commit a grosser error than the opinion 
may be in its own nature. For it is almost as 
ancient as philosophy herself; I am sure it is as old 
as Orpheus, who sings of divers fair cities and 
castles within the circle of the moon. Moreover, 
the profoundest clerks and most renowned philo- 
sophers in all ages have affirmed it. Towards the 



30 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

first age of learning among others Pythagoras and 
Plato avouched it, the first of whom was pro- 
nounced the wisest of men by the pagan oracle, 
as our Solomon is by Holy Writ. In the middle 
age of learning Plutarch speaks of it, and in these 
modern times the most speculative and scienti- 
ficalest men, both in Germany and Italy, seem 
to adhere to it, insinuating that not only the 
sphere of the moon is peopled with Selenites or 
lunary men, but that likewise every star in heaven 
is a peculiar world of itself, which is colonised and 
replenished with Astrean inhabitants, as the earthy 
sea and air are with elementary, the body of the 
sun not excepted, who hath also his solar creatures, 
and they are accounted the most sublime, the 
most pure and perfectest of all. The elementary 
creatures are held the grossest of all, having more 
matter than form in them. The solar have more 
form than matter; the Selenites with other Astrean 
inhabitants are of a mixed nature, and the nearer 
they approach the body of the sun, the more pure 
and spiritual they are. Were it so, there were 
some ground for his speculation, who thought that 
human souls, be they never so pious and pure, 
ascend not immediately after their dissolution 
from the corrupt mass of flesh before the glorious 
presence of God, presently to behold the Beatifical 
Vision, but first into the body of the moon or 
some other star, according to their degrees of 
goodness, and actuate some bodies there of a 
purer composition ; when they are refined there 



OF JAMES HOWELL 31 

they ascend to some higher star, and so to some 
higher than that, till at last by these degrees they 
be made capable to behold the lustre of that glo- 
rious Majesty in whose sight no impurity can 
stand. This is illustrated by a comparison, that if 
one after he hath been kept close in a dark dun- 
geon a long time, should be taken out, and 
brought suddenly to look upon the sun in the 
meridian, it would endanger him to be struck 
stark blind; so, no human soul suddenly sallying 
out of a dirty prison as the body is, would be 
possibly able to appear before the incomprehen- 
sible majesty of God, or be susceptible of the 
brightness of His all-glorious countenance, unless 
he be fitted thereunto beforehand by certain 
degrees, which might be done by passing from 
one star to another, which we are taught differ 
one from the other in glory and splendour. 

Among our modern authors that would furbish 
this old opinion of lunary creatures, and plant 
colonies in the orb of the moon with the rest of 
the celestial bodies. Gasper Galileo Galilei is one, 
who by artificial prospectives hath brought us to 
a nearer commerce with heaven, by drawing it six- 
teen times nearer earth than it was before in ocu- 
lar appearance by the advantage of the said optic 
instrument. 

Among other arguments which the assertors of 
Astrean inhabitants do produce for proof of this 
high point, one is, that it is neither repugnant to 
reason nor religion to think that the Almighty 



32 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Fabricator of the universe, who doth nothing in 
vain, nor suffers His handmaid nature to do so, 
when He created the erratic and fixed stars. Fie 
did not make those huge immense bodies, whereof 
most are bigger than the earth and sea, though 
conglobated, to twinkle only, and to be an orna- 
ment to the roof of heaven, but He placed in the 
convex of every one of those vast capacious spheres 
some living creatures to glorify His Name, among 
whom there is in every of them one superemi- 
nent like man upon earth, to be lord paramount 
of all the rest. To this haply may allude the old 
opinion that there is a peculiar intelligence which 
guides and governs every orb in heaven. 

They that would thus colonise the stars with 
inhabitants do place in the body of the sun, as was 
said before, the purest, the most immaterial and 
refined intellectual creatures, whence the Almighty 
calls those He will have to be immediately about 
His person, and to be admitted to the hierarchy 
of angels. This is far dissonant from the opinion 
of the Turk, who holds that the sun is a great 
burning globe designed for the damned. 

They who are transported with this high specu- 
lation that there are mansions and habitable con- 
veniences for creatures to live within the bodies 
of the celestial orbs, seem to task man of a high 
presumption that he should think all things were 
created principally for him, that the sun and stars 
are serviceable to him in chief, viz., to measure 
his days, to distinguish his seasons, to direct him 



r:' 



OF JAMES HOWELL 33 

in his navigations, and pour wholesome influences 
upon him. 

No doubt they were created to be partly useful 
and comfortable to him, but to imagine that they 
are solely and chiefly for him is a thought that 
may be said to be above the pride of Lucifer. 
They may be beneficial unto him in the generation 
and increase of all elementary creatures, and yet 
have peculiar inhabitants of their own besides to 
concur with the rest of the world in the service of 
the Creator. It is a fair prerogative for man to be 
lord of all terrestrial, aquatic and airy creatures ; 
that with his harpooning iron he can draw ashore 
the great leviathan, that he can make the camel 
and huge dromedary to kneel unto him, and take 
up his burden ; that he can make the fierce bull, 
though ten times stronger than himself, to endure 
his yoke ; that he can fetch down the eagle from 
his nest with such privileges ; but let him not pre- 
sume too far in comparing himself with heavenly 
bodies, while he is no other thing than a worm 
crawling upon the surface of this earth. Now the 
earth is the basest creature which God hath made, 
therefore it is called His footstool, and though 
some take it to be the centre, yet it is the very 
sediment of the elementary world, as they say the 
moon is of the celestial. It is the very sink of all 
corruption and frailty, which made Trismegistus 
say that " terra non mundus est nequitiae locus;" 
The earth, not the world, is the seat of wicked- 
ness. And though, it is true, she be susceptible 



34 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

of light, yet the light terminates only in her super- 
ficies, being not able to enlighten anything else as 
the stars can do. 

Thus have I proportioned my short discourse 
upon this spacious problem to the size of an epis- 
tle. I reserve the fulness of my opinion in this 
point till I receive yours touching Copernicus. 

It hath been always my practice in the search 
and ventilation of natural verities to keep to 
myself a philosophical freedom, as not to make 
any one's opinion so magisterial and binding but 
that I might be at liberty to recede from it upon 
more pregnant and powerful reasons. For as in 
theological tenets it is a rule, " Quicquid non 
descendit a monte Scripturae, eadem authoritate 
contemnitur, qua approbatur " (Whatsoever de- 
scends not from the mount of Holy Scripture may 
be by the same authority rejected as well as re- 
ceived), so in the disquisitions and winnowing of 
physical truths, " Quicquid non descendit a monte 
rationis," etc. (Whatsoever descends not from the 
mount of reason may be as well rejected as ap- 
proved of). 

So, longing after an opportunity to pursue this 
point by mixture of oral discourse, which hath 
more elbow-room than a letter, I rest with all 
candour and cordial affection, your faithful servant, 

J. H. 

Fleet, this 2 of November 1 647. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 35 

X 

To the Right Honourable the Lady E. D. 

THOSE rays of goodness which are difFus- 
edly scattered in others are all concentred 
in you, which, were they divided into equal por- 
tions, were enough to complete a whole jury of 
ladies. This draws you a mixture of love and 
envy, or rather an admiration from all who know 
you, especially from me, and that in so high a de- 
gree, that if you would suffer yourself to be adored 
you should quickly find me religious in that kind. 
However, I am bold to send your Ladyship this, 
as a kind of homage, or heriot, or tribute, or what 
you please to term it, in regard I am a true vassal 
to your virtues. And if you please to lay any of 
your commands upon me, your will shall be a law 
unto me, which I will observe with as much alle- 
giance as any branch of Magna Charta ; they shall 
be as binding to me as Lycurgus' laws were to the 
Spartans ; and to this I subscribe, 

J.H. 
Fleet, this lo oi August 1647. 



36 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XI 

To Mr. R, B.y Esquire, at Grundesburgh 

Sir, 

WHEN I overlooked the list of my choicest 
friends to insert your name, I paused a 
while, and thought it more proper to begin a new 
collateral file and put you in the front thereof, 
where make account you are placed. If anything 
upon earth partakes of angelic happiness (in civil 
actions), it is friendship ; it perfumes the thoughts 
with such sweet ideas and the heart with such 
melting passions. Such are the effects of yours to 
me, which makes me please myself much in the 
speculation of it. 

I am glad you are so well returned to your 
own family, and touching the wheelwright you 
write of, who from a cart came to be a captain, it 
made me think of the perpetual rotations of for- 
tune, which you know antiquity seated upon a 
wheel in a restless, though not violent, volubility ; 
and truly it was never more verified than now, 
that those spokes which were formerly but col- 
lateral, and some of them quite underneath, are 
now coming up apace to the top of the wheel. I 
hope there will be no cause to apply to them the 
old verse I learned at school — 

Asperius nihil est humili, cum surgit in altum. 

But there is a transcendent over-ruling Provi- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 37 

dence, who cannot only check the rollings of this 
petty wheel and strike a nail into it that it shall not 
stir, but stay also when He pleaseth the motions 
of those vast spheres of heaven, where the stars are 
always stirring, as likewise the whirlings of the 
primum mobile itself, which the astronomers say 
draws all the world after it in a rapid revolution. 
That divine Providence vouchsafe to check the 
motion of that malevolent planet, which hath so 
long lowered upon poor England, and send us bet- 
ter days. So, saluting you with no vulgar respects, 
I rest, my dear nephew, yours most affectionately 
to serve you, 

J.H. 

Fleet, this 26 oi July 1646. 

XII 

To Mr En, P., at Paris 

THAT which the plots of the Jesuits in their 
dark cells, and the policy of the greatest 
Roman Catholic princes have driven at these 
many years, is now done to their hands, which 
was to divide and break the strength of these 
three kingdoms, because they held it to be too 
great a glory and power to be in one heretical 
prince's hands (as they esteemed the King of 
Great Britain), because he was in a capacity to be 
umpire, if not arbiter of this part of the world, as 
many of our kings have been. 



38 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

You write thence, that in regard of the sad 
condition of our queen, their countrywoman, they 
are sensible of our calamities, but I believe it is the 
populace only, who see no further than the rind 
of things ; your cabinet council rather rejoiceth 
at it, who, or I am much deceived, contributed 
much in the time of the late sanguine Cardinal, 
to set afoot these distractions, beginning first with 
Scotland, who, you know, hath always served that 
nation for a brand to set England afire for the 
advancement of their own ends. I am afraid we 
have seen our best days ; we knew not when we 
were well, so that the Italian saying may be well 
applied to poor England, " I was well, I would 
be better, I took physic and died." No more now, 
but that I rest still, yours entirely to serve you, 

J. H. 

Fleet, 20 January i64.y, 

XIII 

To 'John Wroth^ Esq., at Petherton Park 

1HAD two of yours lately, one in Italian, the 
other in French (which were answered in the 
same dialect), and as I read them with singular 
delight, so I must tell you, they struck an admir- 
ation into me, that in so short a revolution of 
time you should come to be so great a master of 
those languages, both for the pen and parley. I have 
known divers, and those of pregnant and ripe 



iff'' 



OF JAMES HOWELL 39 

capacities, who had spent more oil and time in 
those countries, yet could they not arrive to that 
double perfection which you have, for if they got 
one, they were commonly defective in the other. 
Therefore I may say that you have, not Spar tarn 
nactuSy which was but a petty republic, "sed 
Italiam et Galliam nactus es, has orna " (You have 
got all Italy and France, adorn these). 

Nor is it language that you have only brought 
home with you, but I find that you have studied 
the men and the manners of those nations you 
have conversed withal. Neither have you courted 
only all their fair cities, castles, houses of pleasure 
and other places of curiosity, but you have pryed 
into the very mysteries of their government, as I 
find by those choice manuscripts and observations 
you have brought with you. In all these things 
you have been so curious as if the soul of your 
great uncle, who was employed ambassador in the 
Imperial Court, and who held correspondence 
with the greatest men of Christendom in their own 
language, had transmigrated into you. 

The freshest news here is, that those heart- 
burnings and fires of civil commotions which you 
left behind you in France, covered over with thin 
ashes for the time, are broken out again, and I be- 
lieve they will be never quite extinguished till 
there be a peace or truce with Spain, for till then 
there is no hope of abatement of taxes. And it is 
feared the Spanish will out-weary the French at 
last in fighting ; for the earth herself, I mean his 



40 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

mines of Mexico and Peru, afford him a constant 
and yearly treasure to support his armies, whereas 
the French King digs his treasure out of the bowels 
and vital spirits of his own subjects. 

I pray let me hear from you by the next oppor- 
tunity, for I shall hold my time well employed to 
correspond with a gentleman of such choice and 
gallant parts. In which desires I rest, your most 
affectionate and faithful servitor. 



J.H. 



29 August 1649. 



XIV 
To Mr W. B. 

HOW glad was I, my choice and precious 
nephew, to receive yours of the 24th cur- 
rent, wherein I was sorry, though satisfied in point 
of belief, to find the ill fortune of interception 
which befell my last unto you. 

Touching the condition of things here, you 
shall understand that our miseries lengthen with 
our days; for though the sun and the spring 
advance nearer us, yet our times are not grown a 
whit the more comfortable. I am afraid this city 
hath fooled herself into a slavery. The army, 
though forbidden to come within ten miles of her 
by order of Parliament, quarters now in the bow- 
els of her. They threaten to break her portcul- 
lises, posts and chains, to make her pervious upon 



OF JAMES HOWELL 41 

all occasions. They have secured also the Tower, 
with addition of strength for themselves. Besides, 
a famine doth insensibly creep upon us, and the 
mint is starved for want of bullion. Trade, which 
was ever the sinew of this island, doth visibly 
decay, and the insurance of ships is risen from 
two to ten in the hundred. Our gold is engrossed 
in private hands or gone beyond sea to travel 
without licence, and much, I believe, of it is 
returned to the earth (whence it first came) to be 
buried where our late nephews may chance to find 
it a thousand years hence, if the world lasts so 
long, so that the exchanging of white earth into 
red (I mean silver into gold) is now above six in 
the hundred ; and all these, with many more, are 
the dismal effects and concomitants of a civil war. 
It is true we have had many such black days in 
England in former ages, but those paralleled to 
the present are as the shadow of a mountain com- 
pared to the eclipse of the moon. My prayers, 
early and late, are that God Almighty would 
please not to turn away His face quite, but cheer 
us again with the light of His countenance. And 
I am well assured you will join with me in the 
same orison to heaven's gate, in which confidence 
I rest yours most affectionately to serve you, 

J. H. 
Fleet, 10 December 1647. 



42 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XV 
To Sir K. Z)., at Paris 

NOW that you are returned and fixed a while 
in France, an old servant of yours takes 
leave to kiss your hands and salute you in an 
intense degree of heat and height of passion. It 
is well you shook hands with this unfortunate 
isle when you did, and got your liberty by such 
a royal mediation as the Queen's Regents, for had 
you stayed you would have taken but little com- 
fort in your life, in regard that ever since there 
have been the fearfullest distractions here that ever 
happened upon any part of the earth. A bellow- 
ing kind of immanity never raged so among men, 
insomuch that the whole country might have 
taken its appellation from the smallest part thereof 
and be called the Isle of Dogs, for all human- 
ity, common honesty, and that mansuetude, with 
other moral civilities which should distinguish the 
rational creature from other animals, have been lost 
here a good while. Nay, besides this cynical, 
there is a kind of wolfish humour hath seized 
upon most of this people, a true lycanthropy, 
they so worry and seek to devour one another ; 
so that the wild Arab and fiercest Tartar may be 
called civil men in comparison of us ; therefore he 
is the happiest who is farthest oiF from this woe- 
ful island. The King is straitened of that Hberty 



OF JAMES HOWELL 43 

he formerly had in the Isle of Wight, and as far 
as I see, may make up the number of Nebuchad- 
nezzar years before he be restored. The Parlia- 
ment persists in their first propositions and will go 
nothing less. This is all I have to send at this 
time, only I will adjoin the true respects of your 
most faithful humble servitor, J. H. 

m 

Fleet, this 5 of May 1647. 

XVI 

To Mr W, Blots, in Suffolk 

YOURS of the seventeenth current came 
safely to hand and I kiss your hands for it. 
You mention there two others that came not, 
which made me condole the loss of such jewels, 
for I esteem all your letters so, being the precious 
effects of your love, which I value at a high rate, 
and please myself much in the contemplation of 
it, as also in the continuance of this letter corre- 
spondence, which is performed on your part with 
such ingenuous expressions and embroidered still 
with new flourishes of invention. I am still under 
hold in this fatal Fleet, and like one in a tempest 
at sea who hath been often near the shore, yet is 
still tossed back by contrary winds, so I have had 
frequent hopes of freedom, but some cross acci- 
dent or other always intervened, insomuch that 
I am now in half-despair of an absolute release till 
a general gaol delivery ; yet notwithstanding this 



44 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

outward captivity, I have inward liberty still. I 
thank God for it. 

The greatest news is that between twenty and 
thirty thousand well-armed Scots have been ut- 
terly routed, rifled and all taken prisoners by less 
than 8000 English. I must confess it was a great 
exploit whereof I am not sorry, in regard that the 
English have regained hereby the honour which 
they had lost abroad of late years in the opinion of 
the world, ever since the pacification at Berwick, 
and divers traverses of war since. What Hamil- 
ton's design was is a mystery. Most think that he 
intended no good either to King or Parliament. 

So with my daily more and more endeared 
affections unto you, I rest yours ever to love and 
serve you, J. H. 

Fleet, 7 May 1647. 

XVII 

To Mr R. Baron, at Paris 

Gentle Sir, 

1 RECEIVED and presently ran over your 
" Cyprian Academy " with much greediness 
and no vulgar delight, and, sir, I hold myself 
much honoured for the dedication you have been 
pleased to make thereof to me, for it deserved 
a far higher patronage. Truly, I must tell you 
without any compliment that I have seldom met 
with such an ingenious mixture of prose and 



OF JAMES HOWELL 45 

verse, interwoven with such varieties of fancy and 
charming strains of amorous passions, which have 
made all the ladies of the land in love with you. 
If you begin already to court the Muses so hand- 
somely and have got such footing on Parnassus, 
you may in time be lord of the whole hill ; and 
those nice girls, because Apollo is now grown un- 
wieldy and old, may make choice of you to offi- 
ciate in his room, and preside over them. 

I much thank you for the punctual narration 
you pleased to send me of those commotions in 
Paris. I believe France will never be in perfect 
repose while a Spaniard sits at the stern and an 
ItaHaa steers the rudder. In my opinion Mazarin 
should do wisely, now that he hath feathered his 
nest so well, to truss up his baggage and make 
over the Alps to his own country, lest the same 
fate betide him as did the Marquis of Ancre, his 
compatriot. I am glad the treaty goes on betwixt 
Spain and France, for nothing can portend a 
greater good to Christendom than a conjunction 
of those two great luminaries, which if it please 
God to bring about, I hope the stars will change 
their aspects and we shall see better days. 

I send here enclosed a second bill of exchange 
in case the first I sent you in my last hath mis- 
carried. So, my dear nephew, I embrace you with 
both my arms and rest yours most entirely to love 
and serve you, while 

J.H. 

Fleet, 20 June 1647. 



46 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XVIII 
To Mr Tho, Morcy at York 

Sir, 

1H AVE often partaken of that pleasure which 
letters use to carry along with them, but I do 
not remember to have found a greater proportion 
of delight than yours afford me. Your last of the 
fourth current came to safe hand, wherein me- 
thought each line, each word, each syllable breathed 
out the passions of a clear and candid soul, of a 
virtuous and gentle spirit. Truly, sir, as I might 
perceive by your ingenuous and pathetical ex- 
pressions therein, that you were transported with 
the heat of true affection towards me in the writ- 
ing, so was I in the reading, which wrought upon 
me with such an energy that a kind of ecstasy pos- 
sessed me for the time. I pray, sir, go on in this 
correspondence and you shall find that your lines 
will not be ill-bestowed upon me, for I love and 
respect you dearly well. Nor is this love grounded 
upon vulgar principles, but upon those extraor- 
dinary parts of virtue and worth which I have 
discovered in you, and such a love is the most 
permanent, as you shall find in your most affec- 
tionate uncle, J. H. 

Fleet, I of September 1647. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 47 

XIX 

To Mr W. B,y 3 Mail 

Sir, 

YOUR last lines to me were as delightful as 
the season. They were as sweet as flowers in 
May ; nay, they were far more fragrant than those 
fading vegetables. They did cast a greater suavity 
than the Arabian spices use to do in the Grand 
Cairo, where, when the wind is southward, they 
say the air is as sweet as a perfumed Spanish glove. 
The air of this city is not so, especially in the 
heart of the city in and about PauFs Church, 
where horse-dung is a yard deep, insomuch that 
to cleanse it would be as hard a task as it was for 
Hercules to cleanse the Augean stable by drawing 
a great river through it, which was accounted one 
of his twelve labours ; but it was a bitter taunt of 
the Italian, who, passing by PauFs Church and 
seeing it full of horses, " Now I perceive " (said 
he) " that in England men and beasts serve God 
alike." No more now, but that I am your most 
faithful servant, 

J.H. 



48 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XX 

To Sir Paul Pindar^ Knight, upon the version of 
an Italian piece into English, called St Paul 's 
Progress upon Earth, a new and a notable kind 
of Satire 

Sir, 

ST PAUL having descended lately to view Italy 
and other places, as you may trace him in the 
following discourse, he would not take wing back to 
heaven before he had given you a special visit, who 
have so well deserved of his Church here, the good- 
liest pile of stones in the Christian world of that kind. 
Of all the men of our times, you are one of the 
greatest examples of piety and constant integrity, 
which discovers a noble soul to dwell within you, 
and that you are very conversant with heaven ; so 
that methinks I see St Paul saluting and solacing 
you in these black times, assuring you that those 
pious works of charity you have done and daily do 
(and that in such a manner " that the left hand 
knows not what the right doth " ) will be as a tri- 
umphant chariot to carry you one day up to heaven, 
to partake of the same beatitude with him. Sir, 
among those that truly honour you, I am one, and 
have been so since I first knew you, therefore as a 
small testimony hereof, I send you this fresh fancy 
composed by a noble personage in Italian, of which 
language you are so great a master. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 49 

For the first part of the discourse, which consists 
of a dialogue betwixt the two First Persons of the 
Holy Trinity, there are examples of that kind in 
some of the most ancient fathers, as Apollinarius 
and Nazianzen, and lately Grotius hath the like in 
his tragedy of Christ's Passion^ which may serve to 
free it from all exceptions. — So I most affection- 
ately kiss your hands, and am, sir, , your very 
humble and ready servant, 

J. H. 

Fleet, 25 Mar Hi 164.6. 

XXI 

To Sir Paul Neale^ Knight, upon the same 
subject 

Sir, 

ST PAUL cannot reascend to heaven before he 
gives you also a salute, my Lord, your father, 
having been a star of the greatest magnitude in the 
firmament of the Church. If you please to observe 
the manner of his late progress upon earth, which 
you may do by the guidance of this discourse, you 
shall discover many things which are not vulgar, 
by a curious mixture of Church and State affairs : 
you shall feel herein the pulse of Italy, and how it 
beats at this time since the beginning of these late 
wars betwixt the Pope and the Duke of Parma, with 
the grounds, procedure, and success of the said war, 
together with the interest and grievances, the pre- 



50 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

tences and quarrels that most princes there have 
with Rome. 

I must confess, my genius hath often prompted 
me that I was never cut out for a translator, there 
being a kind of servility therein. For it must needs 
be somewhat tedious to one that hath any freeborn 
thoughts within him and genuine conceptions of 
his own (whereof I have some, though shallow 
ones), to enchain himself to a verbal servitude, and 
the sense of another. Moreover, translations are 
but as turncoated things at best, especially among 
languages that have advantages one of the other, 
as the Italian hath of the English, which may be 
said to differ one from the other as silk doth from 
cloth, the common wear of both countries where 
they are spoken. And as cloth is the more sub- 
stantial, so the English tongue, by reason it is so 
knotted with consonants, is the stronger and the 
more sinewy of the two. But silk is more smooth 
and slick, and so is the Italian tongue compared 
to the English. Or I may say translations are like 
the wrong side of a Turkey carpet, which useth to 
be full of thrums and knots, and nothing so even 
as the right side. Or one may say (as I spake 
elsewhere) that translations are like wines taken off 
the lees and poured into other vessels, that must 
needs lose somewhat of their first strength and 
briskness, which in the pouring or passage rather 
evaporates into air. 

Moreover, touching translations, it is to be ob- 
served that every language hath certain idioms. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 51 

proverbs and peculiar expressions of its own, which 
are not renderable in any other but paraphrastically ; 
therefore he overacts the office of an interpreter 
who doth enslave himself too strictly to words or 
phrases. I have heard of an excess among limners, 
called too much to the life, which happens when 
one aims at similitude more than skill. So in ver- 
sion of languages one may be so over-punctilious 
in words that he may mar the matter. The greatest 
fidelity that can be expected in a translator is to 
keep still afoot and entire the true genuine sense of 
the author with the main design he drives at ; and 
this was the principal thing which was observed 
in this version. 

Furthermore, let it not be thought strange that 
there are some Italian words made free denizens 
of England in this discourse, for by such means 
our language hath grown from time to time to be 
copious, and still grows more rich by adopting, or 
naturalising rather, the choicest foreign words of 
other nations, as a nosegay is nothing else but a 
tuft of flowers gathered from divers beds. 

Touching this present version of Italian into 
English, I may say it is a thing I did when I had 
nothing to do. It was to find something whereby 
to pass away the slow hours of this sad condition 
of captivity. 

I pray be pleased to take this as a small argument 
of the great respects I owe you for the sundry rare 
and high virtues I have discovered in you, as also 
for the obligations I have to your noble lady. 



52 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

whose hands I humbly kiss, wishing you both, as 
the season invites me, a good New Year (for it 
begins but now in law), as also a holy Lent, and 
a healthful spring. Your most obliged and ready 
servitor, 

J.H. 
Fleet, 25 Mar Hi. 

XXII 
To Dr W, Turner 

IRETU RN you my most thankful acknowledg- 
ments for that collection or farrago of pro- 
phecies, as you call them (and that very properly 
in regard there is a mixture of good and bad), you 
pleased to send me lately ; especially that of Nos- 
tredamus, which I shall be very chary to preserve 
for you. I could requite you with divers predic- 
tions more, and of some of the British bards, which 
were they translated into English would transform 
the world to wonder. 

They sing of a red Parliament and white King, 
of a race of people which should be called Pen- 
guins, of the fall of the Church, and divers other 
things which glance upon these times. But I am 
none of those that afford much faith to rambling 
prophecies, which (as was said elsewhere) are like 
so many odd grains sown in the vast field of time, 
whereof not one in a thousand comes up to grow 
again and appear above ground. But that I may 



OF JAMES HOWELL 53 

correspond with you in some part for the like cour- 
tesy, I send you these following prophetic verses 
of Whitehall, which were made above twenty years 
ago to my knowledge upon a book called " Ba- 
laam's Ass," that consisted of some invectives 
against King James and the Court in statu quo tunc. 
It was composed by one Mr Williams, a Council- 
lor of the Temple, but a Roman Catholic, who 
was hanged, drawn and quartered at Charing Cross 
for it, and I believe there be hundreds that have 
copies of these verses ever since that time about 
the town yet living. They were these: 

Some seven years since Christ rid to Court, 

And there He left His ass .• 
The courtiers kicked him out of doors. 

Because they had no grass.* *grace. 

The ass went mourning up and down. 

And thus I heard him bray. 
If that they could not give me grass. 

They might have given me hay. 
But sixteen hundred forty-three. 

Whosoe'er shall see that day. 
Will nothing find within that Court 

But only grass and hay, etc. 

Which was found to happen true in Whitehall, 
till the soldiers coming to quarter there trampled 
it down. 

Truly, sir, I find all things conspire to make 
strange mutations in this miserable island. I fear 
we shall fall from under the sceptre to be under 
the sword ; and since we speak of prophecies, I am 
afraid among others that which was made since 



54 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the Reformation will be verified, " The Churchman 
was, the Lawyer is, the Soldier shall be." Welcome 
be the will of God, who transvolves kingdoms 
and tumbles down monarchies as molehills at His 
pleasure. — So I rest, my dear doctor, your most 
faithful servant, 

J.H. 
Fleet, 9 August 1648. 

XXIII 

To the Honourable Sir Edward Spencer^ Knight, 
at his House, near Branceford 

WE are not so bare of intelligence between 
these walls, but we can hear of your doings 
in Branceford : that so general applause whereby 
you were cried up knight of the shire for Middle- 
sex, sounded round about us upon London streets, 
and echoed in every corner of the town ; nor do 
I mingle speech with any, though half affected 
to you, but highly approve of and congratulate 
the election, being glad that a gentleman of such 
extraordinary parts and probity, as also of such 
a mature judgment, should be chosen to serve the 
public. 

I return you the manuscript you lent me of 
" Daemonology,'* but the author thereof and I are 
two in point of opinion that way, for he seems 
to be on the negative part, and truly he writes as 
much as can be produced for his purpose. But 



OF JAMES HOWELL 55 

there are some men that are of a mere negative 
genius, like Johannes ad ofpositum^ who will deny, 
or at least cross and puzzle anything, though 
never so clear in itself, with their but, yet, if, etc. ; 
they will flap the lie in truth's teeth, though she 
visibly stand before their face without any visard. 
Such perverse, cross-grained spirits are not to be 
dealt withal by arguments but palpable proofs, as 
if one should deny that the fire burns or that he 
hath a nose on his face. There is no way to deal 
with him but to pull him by the tip of the one 
and put his finger into the other. I will not say 
that this gentleman is so perverse ; but to deny 
there are any witches, to deny that there are not 
ill spirits which seduce, tamper and converse in 
divers shapes with human creatures and impel 
them to actions of malice ; I say that he who 
denies there are such busy spirits and such poor 
passive creatures upon whom they work, which 
commonly are called witches ; I say again, that he 
who denies there are such spirits shows that he 
himself hath a spirit of contradiction in him, op- 
posing the current and consentient opinion of all 
antiquity. We read that both Jews and Romans, 
with all other nations of Christendom and our 
ancestors here in England, enacted laws against 
witches ; sure they were not so silly as to waste 
their brains in making laws against chimeras, 
against non-entia^ or such as Plato's Kteritismata's 
were. The judicial law is apparent in the holy 
codex, " Thou shalt not sufl^er a witch to live." 



56 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

The Roman law which the Decemviri made is yet 
extant in the twelve tables, " Qui fruges incantas- 
sent poenis danto" (They who should enchant the 
fruit of the earth, let them be punished). The 
imperial law is known by every civilian, " Hi cum 
hostes naturae sint, supplicio afEciantur " (These, 
meaning witches, because they are enemies to na- 
ture, let them be punished). And the Acts of Par- 
liament in England are against those that invoke 
ill spirits, that take up any dead man, woman or 
child, or take the skin or bone of any dead body, 
to apply it to sorcery or charm, whereby any one 
is lamed or made to pine away, etc. ; such shall 
be guilty of flat felony and not capable of clergy 
or sanctuary, etc. 

What a multitude of examples are there in 
good authentic authors of divers kinds of fascina- 
tions, incantations, prestigiations, of philtres, spells, 
charms, sorceries, characters and such like, as also 
of magic, necromancy and divinations. Surely 
the "Witch of Endor " is no fable, the burning 
of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, in Rouen, 
and of the Marchioness d'Ancre, of late years in 
Paris, are no fables. The execution of Nostre- 
damus for a kind of witch, some fourscore years 
since, is but a modern story, who among other 
things foretold, " Le Senat de Londres tuera son 
roi " (The senate of London shall kill their King). 
The best historians have it upon record how 
Charlemagne's mistress enchanted him with a ring, 
which as long as she had about her he would not 



OF JAMES HOWELL 57 

suffer her dead carcass to be carried out of his 
chamber to be buried ; and a bishop taking it out 
of her mouth, the Emperor grew to be as much 
bewitched with the bishop, but he being cloyed 
with his excess of favour, threw it into a pond, 
where the Emperor's chiefest pleasure was to walk 
till his dying day. The story tells us how the 
Waldenses in France were by a solemn arrest of 
Parliament accused and condemned of witchcraft. 
The Maltese took Saint Paul for a witch. Saint 
Augustin speaks of women who could turn men 
to horses and make them carry their burdens. 
Danaeus writes of an enchanted staff which the 
Devil, summoner-like, was used to deliver some 
market-women to ride upon. In some of the 
northern countries it is as ordinary to buy and sell 
winds as it is to do wines in other parts ; and 
hereof I could instance in some examples of my 
own knowledge. Every one knows what Olaus 
Magnus writes of Eric's (King of Sweden's) cor- 
nered cap, who could make the wind shift to any 
point of the compass, according as he turned it 
about. 

Touching diviners of things to come, which is 
held a species of witchcraft, we may read they 
were frequent among the Romans. Yea, they had 
colleges for their augurs and aruspices, who used 
to make their predictions sometimes by fire, some- 
times by flying of fowls, sometimes by inspection 
into the entrails of beasts, or invoking the dead, 
but most frequently by consulting with the oracles. 



58 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

to whom all nations had recourse except the Jews. 
But you will say that since Christianity displayed 
her banner, the Cross hath scared away the Devil 
and struck the oracles dumb, as Plutarch reports 
a notable passage of Thamus, an Italian pilot, who 
a little after the birth of Christ, sailing along the 
coasts of Calabria in a still silent night, all his 
passengers being asleep, an airy cold voice came 
to his ears, saying, " Thamus, Thamus, Thamus, 
the great god Pan is dead," who was the chiefest 
oracle of that country. Yet though the light of the 
Gospel chased away those great owls, there be some 
bats and little night birds that fly still abroad. I 
mean petty spirits that by secret pactions, which 
are made always without witness, enable men and 
women to do evil. In such compacts beyond the 
seas the party must first renounce Christ and the 
extended woman, meaning the Blessed Virgin; he 
must contemn the sacrament, tread on the cross, 
spit at the host, etc. There is a famous story of 
such a paction which Friar Louis made some half 
a hundred years ago with the Devil in Marseilles, 
who appeared to him in shape of a goat and pro- 
mised him the enjoyment of any woman whom he 
fancied, with other pleasures, for forty-one years ; 
but the Devil being too cunning for him, put the 
figure of one before, and made it fourteen years in 
the contract (which is to be seen to this day with 
the Devil's claw to it), at which time the friar was 
detected for witchcraft and burnt, and all those 
children whom he had christened during that term 



OF JAMES HOWELL 59 

of fourteen years were rebaptlsed ; the gentle- 
women whom he had abused put themselves into 
a nunnery by themselves. Hereunto may be added 
the great rich widow that was burned in Lyons, 
because it was proved the Devil had lain with her; 
as also the history of Lieutenant Jaquette, which 
stands upon record with the former, but if I should 
insert them here at large it would make this letter 
swell too much. 

But we need not cross the sea for examples of 
this kind. We have too too many (God wot) at 
home. King James a great while was loath to 
believe there were witches, but that which hap- 
pened to my Lord Francis of Rutland's children 
convinced him, who were bewitched by an old wo- 
man that was servant at Belvoir Castle ; but being 
displeased, she contracted with the Devil (who 
conversed with her in form of a cat, whom she 
called Rutterkin) to make away those children, 
out of mere malignity and thirst of revenge. 

But since the beginning of these unnatural wars 
there may be a cloud of witnesses produced for 
the proof of this black tenet, for within the com- 
pass of two years near upon three hundred witches 
were arraigned, and the major part executed in Es- 
sex and Suffolk only. Scotland swarms with them 
now more than ever, and persons of good quality 
are executed daily. 

Thus, sir, have I huddled together a few argu- 
ments touching this subject, because in my last 
communication with you, methought I found you 



6o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

somewhat unsatisfied and staggering in your opin- 
ion touching the affirmative part of this thesis, the 
discussing whereof is far fitter for an elaborate 
large treatise than a loose letter. 

Touching the new Commonwealth you intend 
to establish, now that you have assigned me my 
part among so many choice legislators, something 
I shall do to comply with your desires, which shall 
be always to me as commands, and your com- 
mands as laws, because I love and honour you in a 
very high degree for those gallant freeborn thoughts 
and sundry parts of virtue which I have discerned 
in you, which make me entitle myself your most 
humble and affectionate faithful servant, 

J. H. 

Fleet, 20 February 1647. 



XXIV 

To Sir William Boswell, at the Hague 

THAT black tragedy which was lately acted 
here, as it hath filled most hearts among us 
with consternation and horror, so I believe it hath 
been no less resented abroad. For my own par- 
ticular, the more I ruminate upon it the more it 
astonisheth my imagination and shaketh all the 
cells of my brain, so that sometimes I struggle 
with my faith and have much ado to believe it yet. 
I shall give over wondering at anything hereafter, 
nothing shall seem strange unto me, only I will 



OF JAMES HOWELL 6i 

attend with patience how England will thrive 
now that she is let blood in the basilical vein and 
cured, as they say, of the King's Evil. 

I had one of yours by Mr Jacob Boeue, and I 
much thank you for the account you please to give 
me of what I sent you by his conveyance. Hol- 
land may now be proud, for there is a younger 
commonwealth in Christendom than herself. No 
more now but that I always rest, sir, your most 
humble servitor, 

J.H. 

Fleet, 20 March 1648. 

XXV 

T*o Mr, W. B.y at Grundsburgh 

NEVER credit me if liberty itself be as dear 
to me as your letters, they come so full of 
choice and learned applications, with such free, un- 
forced strains of ingenuity, insomuch that when I 
peruse them methinks they cast such a kind of fra- 
grancy that I cannot more aptly compare them than 
to the flowers which are now in their prime season, 
viz., to roses in June. I had two of them lately 
which methought were like quivers full of barbed 
arrows pointed with gold that penetrated my breast. 

Tali quis nollet ab ictu 

Ridendo tremulas mortis non ire sub umbras ? 

Your expressions were like those mucrones and 
melliti glohuli which you so ingeniously apply mine 



62 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

unto. But these arrows of yours, though they have 
hit me, they have not hurt me. They had no 
killing quality, but they were rather as so many 
cordials, for you know gold is restorative. I am 
suddenly surprised by an unexpected occasion, 
therefore I must abruptly break off with you for 
this time. I will only add, my most dear nephew, 
that I rest, yours entirely to love and serve you, 

J.H. 
June 1,, 1648. 

XXVI 

To R. K.^ Esquire y at St Giles's 

DIFFERENCE in opinion, no more than a dif- 
fering complexion, can be cause enough for 
me to hate any. A differing fancy is no more to 
me than a differing face. If another hath a fair coun- 
tenance, though mine be black, or if I have a fair 
opinion, though another have a hard-favoured 
one, yet it shall not break that common league 
of humanity which should be betwixt rational 
creatures, provided he correspond with me in the 
general offices of moraHty and civil uprightness. 
This may admit him to my acquaintance and conver- 
sation, though I never concur with him in opinion. 
He bears the image of Adam, and the image of 
the Almighty as well as I ; he had God for his 
Father, though he hath not the same Church for 
his mother. The Omniscient Creator, as He is only 



OF JAMES HOWELL 6^ 

kardlognostic, so He is the sole Lord of the whole 
inward man. It is He who reigns over the fac- 
ulties of the soul and the affections of the heart. 
It is He who regulates the will, and rectifies all 
obliquities in the understanding by special illumina- 
tions, and oftentimes reconciles men as opposite in 
opinions as meridians and parallels are in point of 
extension, whereof the one draws from east to west, 
the other from north to south. 

Some of the pagan philosophers, especially The- 
mistius, who was praetor of Byzantium, maintained 
an opinion that as the pulchritude and preservation 
of the world consisted in varieties and dissimili- 
tudes (as also in eccentric and contrary motions), 
that as it was replenished with such numberless sorts 
of several species, and that the individuals of those 
species differed so much one from the other, es- 
pecially mankind, amongst whom one shall hardly 
find two in ten thousand that hath exactly (though 
twins) the same tone of voice, similitude of face, or 
ideas of mind — therefore, the God of Nature or- 
dained from the beginning that He should be wor- 
shipped in various and sundry forms of adorations, 
which, nevertheless, like so many lines should tend 
all to the same centre. But Christian religion pre- 
scribes another rule, viz., that there is but una via, 
una Veritas^ there is but one true way to heaven, and 
that but a narrow one, whereas there be huge large 
roads that lead to hell. 

God Almighty guide us in the first and guard us 
from the second, as also from all cross and uncouth 



64 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

by-paths, which use to lead such giddy brains that 
follow them to a confused labyrinth of errors, where, 
being entangled, the Devil, as they stand gaping for 
new lights to lead them out, takes his advantage to 
seize on them for their spiritual pride and inso- 
briety in the search of more knowledge. — Your 
most faithful servant, 

J.H. 
28 July 1648. 



EPISTOLiE HO-ELIAN^ 
SECTION IX 



BOOK IV 
SECTION IX 

I 

To Sir James Crofts, Knight, at his house near 
Lemster 

EPISTLES, or (according to the word in use) 
Familiar Letters, may be called the alarum 
bells of love ; I hope this will prove so to you, 
and have power to awaken you out of that silence 
wherein you have slept so long ; yet I would not 
have this alarum make any harsh obstreperous 
sound, but gently summon you to our former cor- 
respondence; your returns to me shall be more 
than alarum bells, they shall be like silver trum- 
pets to rouse up my spirits, and make me take 
pen in hand to meet you more than halfway in 
the old field of friendship. 

It is recorded of Galen, one of nature's cabinet 
clerks, that when he slept his siesta (as the Span- 
iard calls it), or afternoon sleep, to avoid excess that 
way, he used to sit in such a posture that having 
a gold ball in his hand, and a copper vessel under- 
neath, as soon as his senses were shut, and the 
phantasy began to work, the ball would fall down, 



68 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the noise whereof would awake him, and draw the 
spring-lock back again to set the outward senses 
at liberty. I have seen in Italy a finger-ring which 
in the boss thereof had a watch, and there was 
such a trick of art in it that it might be so wound 
up that it would make a small pin to prick him who 
wore it at such an hour as he pleased in the night. 
Let the pen between us have the virtue of that pin : 
but the pen hath a thousand virtues more. You 
know that anser^ apis^ vitulus^ the goose, the bee and 
the calf, do rule the world, the one affording parch- 
ment, the other two sealing-wax and quills to write 
withal. You know also how the cackling of geese 
did once preserve the Capitol from being surprised 
by my countryman Brennus, which was the first 
foreign force that Rome felt. But the goose-quill 
doth daily greater things, it conserves empires (and 
the feathers of it get kingdoms; witness what ex- 
ploits the English performed by it in France), the 
quill being the chiefest instrument of intelligence, 
and the ambassador's prime tool. Nay, the quill 
is the usefulest thing which preserves that noble 
virtue, friendship, which else would perish among 
men for want of practice. 

I shall make no more sallies out of London 
this summer, therefore your letters may be sure 
where to find me. Matters are still involved here 
in a strange confusion, but the stars may let down 
milder influences ; therefore cheer up, and reprieve 
yourself against better times, for the world would 
be irksome unto me if you were out of it: happen 



OF JAMES HOWELL 69 

what will, you shall be sure to find me your ready 
and real servant, J. H. 



II 

To Mr T. Morgan 

1 RECEIVED two of yours upon Tuesday 
last, one to your brother, the other to me, but 
the superscriptions were mistaken, which makes 
me think on that famous civilian. Doctor Dale, 
who, being employed to Flanders by Queen Eliz- 
abeth, sent in a packet to the Secretary of State 
two letters, one to the Queen, the other to his 
wife; but that which was meant for the Queen was 
superscribed. To his dear wife, and that for his wife. 
To her Most Excellent Majesty; so that the Queen 
having opened his letter, she found it beginning 
with sweetheart, and afterwards with my dear, and 
dear love, with such expressions, acquainting her 
with the state of his body, and that he began to 
want money; you may easily guess what emotions 
of mirth this mistake raised, but the doctor by this 
oversight (or cunningness rather) got a supply of 
money. This perchance may be your policy to 
endorse me your brother, thereby to endear me the 
more unto you; but you needed not to have done 
that, for the name friend goes sometimes further 
than brother, and there be more examples of friends 
that did sacrifice their lives for one another than of 
brothers, which the writer doth think he should do 



70 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

for you, if the case required. But since I am fallen 
upon Doctor Dale, who was a witty kind of droll, 
I will tell you instead of news, for there is little 
good stirring now, two other facetious tales of 
his ; and familiar tales may become familiar letters 
well enough. When Queen Elizabeth did first pro- 
pose unto him that foreign employment to Flan- 
ders, among other encouragements she told him 
that he should have 20s. per diem for his expenses. 
"Then, madam," said he, "I will spend 19s. a 
day." "What will you do with the odd shilling?" 
the Queen replied. " I will reserve that for my 
Kate, and for Tom and Dick," meaning his wife 
and children. This induced the Queen to enlarge 
his allowance. But this that comes last is the best 
of all, and may be called the superlative of the three, 
which was, when at the overture of the treaty the 
other ambassadors came to propose in what lan- 
guage they should treat, the Spanish ambassador 
answered, that the French was the most proper, be- 
cause his mistress entitled herself Queen of France, 
" Nay, then," said Doctor Dale, " let us treat in 
Hebrew, for your master calls himself King of 
Jerusalem." 

I performed the civilities you enjoined me to 
your friends here, who return you the like cen- 
tuplicated, and so doth your entire friend, 

J.H. 

May 12. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 71 

III 

To the R. H. the Lady E. D. 

Madam, 

THERE is a French saying that courtesies and 
favours are like flowers, which are sweet only- 
while they are fresh, but afterwards they quickly 
fade and wither. I cannot deny but your favours 
to me might be compared to some kind of flowers 
(and they would make a thick posy), but they 
should be to the flower called "life everlasting," or 
that pretty vermilion flower which grows at the 
foot of the mountain Etna in Sicily, which never 
loses anything of its first colour and scent. Those 
favours you did me thirty years ago in the lifetime 
of your incomparable brother Mr R. Altham (who 
left us in the flower of his age), methinks are as 
fresh to me as if they were done yesterday. 

Nor were it any danger to compare courtesies 
done to me to other flowers, as I use them, for I 
distil them in the limbec of my memory, and so 
turn them to essences. 

But, madam, I honour you not so much for fa- 
vours as for that precious brood of virtues which 
shine in you with that brightness, but especially 
for those high motions whereby your soul soars 
up so often towards heaven. Insomuch, madam, 
that if it were safe to call any mortal a saint, you 
should have that title from me, and I would be 



72 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

one of your chlefest votaries ; howsoever I may 
without any superstition subscribe myself your 
truly devoted servant, 

J. H. 

April 8. 

IV 

To the Lord Marquis of Hertford 

My Lord, 

I RECEIVED your Lordship's of the eleventh 
current, with the commands it carried, where- 
of I shall give an account in my next. 

Foreign parts afford not much matter of intelli- 
gence, it being now the dead of winter, and the 
season unfit for action. But we need not go abroad 
for news ; there is store enough at home. We see 
daily mighty things, and they are marvellous in our 
eyes, but the greatest marvel is that nothing should 
now be marvelled at, for we are so habituated to 
wonders that they are grown familiar unto us. 

Poor England may be said to be like a ship 
tossed up and down the surges of a turbulent sea, 
having lost her old pilot, and God knows when 
she can get into safe harbour again ; yet doubtless 
this tempest, according to the usual operations 
of nature, and the succession of mundane effects 
by contrary agents, will turn at last into a calm, 
though many who are yet in their nonage may 
not live to see it. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 73 

Your Lordship knows that the Kocrfio^f this 
fair frame of the universe, came out of a chaos, an 
indigested lump, and that this elementary world 
was made of millions of ingredients repugnant to 
themselves in nature (and the whole is still pre- 
served by the reluctancy and restless combatings 
of these principles). We see how the shipwright 
doth make use of knee-timber and other cross- 
grained pieces as well as of straight and even, for 
framing a goodly vessel to ride on Neptune's 
back ; the printer useth many contrary characters 
in his art to put forth a fair volume ; — as <^ is a 
p reversed, and n is r u turned upward, with other 
differing letters which yet concur all to the per- 
fection of the whole work ; there go many and 
various dissonant tones to make an harmonious 
concert. This puts me in mind of an excellent 
passage which a noble speculative knight (Sir P. 
Herbert) hath in his late " Conceptions " to his 
son : how a holy anchorite, being in a wilderness, 
among other contemplations he fell to admire the 
method of Providence, how out of causes which 
seem bad to us He produceth oftentimes good 
effects ; how He suffers virtuous, loyal and relig- 
ious men to be oppressed, and others to prosper. 
As he was transported with these ideas, a goodly 
young man appeared to him and told him, " Fa- 
ther, I know your thoughts are distracted, and 
I am sent to quiet them, therefore if you will 
accompany me a few days, you shall return very 
well satisfied of those doubts that now encumber 



74 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

your mind." So, going along with him they were 
to pass over a deep river, whereon there was 
a narrow bridge, and meeting there with another 
passenger the young man jostled him into the 
water and so drowned him. The. old anchorite 
being much astonished thereat would have left 
him, but his guide said, " Father, be not amazed, 
because I shall give you good reasons for what 
I do, and you shall see stranger things than this 
before you and I part, but at last I shall settle 
your judgment and put your mind in full repose." 
So going that night to lodge in an inn where there 
was a crew of banditti and debauched ruffians, the 
young man struck into their company and revelled 
with them till the morning, while the anchorite 
spent most of the night in numbering his beads. 
But as soon as they were departed thence they 
met with some officers who went to apprehend 
that crew of banditti they had left behind them. 
The next day they came to a gentleman's house 
which was a fair palace, where they received all 
the courteous hospitality which could be, but 
in the morning as they parted there was a child 
in a cradle which was the only son of the gentle- 
man, and the young man, spying his opportunity, 
strangled the child and so got away. The third 
day they came to another inn, where the man of 
the house treated them with all the civility that 
could be, and gratis, yet the young man embez- 
zled a silver goblet and carried it away in his 
pocket, which still increased the amazement of 



OF JAMES HOWELL 75 

the anchorite. The fourth day in the evening 
they came to lodge at another inn, where the 
host was very sullen and uncivil unto them, exact- 
ing much more than the value of what they had 
spent, yet at parting the young man bestowed 
upon him the silver goblet he had stolen from 
that host who had used them so kindly. The 
fifth day, they made towards a great rich town ; 
but some miles before they came at it they met 
with a merchant at the close of the day, who had 
a great charge of money about him, and asking 
the next passage to the town the young man put 
him in a clean contrary way. The anchorite and 
his guide being come to the town, at the gate they 
espied a devil who lay as it were sentinel, but he 
was asleep ; they found also both men and women 
at sundry kinds of sports, some dancing, others 
singing, with divers sorts of revellings. They 
went afterwards to a convent of Capuchins, where 
about the gate they found legions of devils laying 
siege to that monastery, yet they got in and 
lodged there that night. Being awakened the next 
morning the young man came to that cell where 
the anchorite was lodged, and told him, '^ I know 
your heart is full of horror, and your head full of 
confusion, astonishments and doubts for what you 
have seen since the first time of our association. 
But know that I am an angel sent from heaven 
to rectify your judgment, as also to correct a little 
your curiosity in the researches of the ways and 
acts of Providence too far ; for though separately 



76 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

they seem strange to the shallow apprehension 
of man, yet conjunctly they all tend to produce 
good effects. 

"That man whom I tumbled into the river was 
an act of Providence, for he was going upon a most 
mischievous design that would have damnified not 
only his own soul, but destroyed the party against 
whom it was intended. Therefore I prevented it. 

" The cause why I conversed all night with that 
crew of rogues was also an act of Providence, for 
they intended to go a-robbing all that night, but 
I kept them there purposely till the next morning 
that the hand of justice might seize upon them. 

"Touching the kind host from whom I took 
the silver goblet, and the clownish or knavish host 
to whom I gave it, let this demonstrate unto you that 
good men are liable to crosses and losses whereof 
bad men oftentimes reap the benefit, but it com- 
monly produceth patience in the one and pride in 
the other. 

"Concerning that noble gentleman whose child 
I strangled after so courteous entertainment, know 
that that also was an act of Providence, for the 
gentleman was so indulgent and doting on that 
child that It lessened his love to Heaven, so I took 
away the cause. 

" Touching the merchant whom I misguided in 
his way, it was likewise an act of Providence, for 
had he gone the direct way to this town he had 
been robbed and his throat cut, therefore I pre- 
served him by that deviation. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 77 

" Now concerning this great luxurious city, 
whereas we spied but one devil which lay asleep 
without the gate, there being so many about this 
poor convent, you must consider that Lucifer, 
being already assured of that riotous town by cor- 
rupting their manners every day more and more, 
he needs but one single sentinel to secure it. But 
for this holy place of retirement, this monastery 
inhabited by so many devout souls who spend their 
whole lives in acts of mortification, as exercises 
of piety and penance, he hath brought so many 
legions to beleaguer them ; yet he can do no good 
upon them, for they bear up against him most un- 
dauntedly, maugre all his infernal power and strata- 
gems." So the young man, or divine messenger, 
suddenly disappeared and vanished, yet leaving his 
fellow-traveller in good hands. 

My Lord, I crave your pardon for this extrava- 
gancy and the tediousness thereof, but I hope the 
sublimity of the matter will make some compen- 
sation, which, if I am not deceived, will well suit 
with your genius, for I know your contemplations 
to be as high as your condition, and as much above 
the vulgar. This figurative story shows that the 
ways of Providence are inscrutable. His intention 
and method of operation not conformable often- 
times to human judgment, the plummet and line 
whereof is infinitely too short to fathom the depth 
of His designs ; therefore, let us acquiesce in an 
humble admiration, and with this confidence, that 
all things co-operate to the best at last as they 



78 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

relate to His glory and the general good of His 
creatures, though sometimes they appea:r to us, 
by uncouth circumstances, and cross mediums. 

So in a due distance and posture of humility I 
kiss your Lordship's hands, as being my most 
highly honoured lord, your thrice-obedient and 
obliged servitor, 

J.H. 



To R. Bakery Esquire 

Sir, 

NOW that Lent and the spring do make their 
approach, in my opinion fasting would con- 
duce much to the advantage of soul and body. 
Though our second institution of observing Lent 
aimed at civil respects, as to preserve the brood 
of cattle, and advance the profession of fishermen, 
yet it concurs with the first institution, viz., a true 
spiritual end, which was to subdue the flesh, and 
that being brought under, our other two spiritual 
enemies, the world and the devil, are the sooner 
overcome. The naturalists observe that morning 
spittle kills dragons, so fasting helps to destroy the 
devil, provided it be accompanied with other acts 
of devotion. To fast for one day only from about 
nine in the morning to four in the afternoon, is 
but a mock fast. The Turks do more than so in 
their Ramirams and Beirams, and the Jew also. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 79 

for he fasts from the dawn in the morning till the 
stars be up in the night, as you observe in the 
devout and delicate poem you pleased to commu- 
nicate unto me lately. I was so taken with the 
subject, that I presently lighted my candle at your 
torch, and fell into these stanzas : 

1. Now Lent is come, let us refrain 
From carnal creatures, quick or slain ; 
Let 's fast, and macerate the flesh. 
Impound, and keep it in distress 

2. For forty days, and then we shall 
Have a replevin from the thrall. 

By that blessed Prince, who for this fast 
Will give us angels' food at last. 

3. But to abstain from beef, hog, goose. 
And let our appetites go loose 

To lobsters, crabs, prawns, or such fish. 
We do not fast, but feast in this. 

4. Not to let down lamb, kid, or veal. 
Hen, plover, turkey-cock, or teal. 
And eat botargo, caviar. 
Anchovies, oysters and like fare ; 

5. Or to forbear from flesh, fowl, fish. 
And eat potatoes in a dish 

Done o'er with amber, or a mess 
Of ringos in a Spanish dress : 

6. Or to refrain from each hot thing 
Which water, earth, or air doth bring. 
And lose a hundred pound at gleek. 
Or be a saint when we should sleep. 



8o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

7. Or to leave play with all high dishes 

And feed our thoughts with wanton wishes. 
Making the soul like a light wench 
Wear patches of concupiscence : 

8. This is not to keep Lent aright. 
But play the juggling hypocrite : 

He truly Lent observes who makes the inward man 
To fast, as well as makes the outward feed on bran. 

The French Reformists have an odd way of 
keeping Lent, for I have seen the walls of their 
temples turned to shambles and flesh hanging 
upon them on Lent Sundays ; insomuch that he 
who doth not know their practice would take their 
churches to be synagogues of Jews, and that the 
bloody Levitical sacrifices were offered there. 

And now that my thoughts are in France, a witty 
passage of Henry the Great comes into my mind, 
who being himself in the field, sent to the old 
Count of Soissons to accompany him with what 
forces he could make. The Count answered that 
he was grown decrepit and crazy ; besides, his es- 
tate was so, being much exhausted in the former 
wars, and all that he could do now for His Maj- 
esty was to pray for him. " Doth my cousin of 
Soissons,'' said the King, " answer me so ? They 
say that prayer without fasting hath nothing of 
that efficacy as when they are joined. Ventre de 
St Gris, By the belly of St Gris, I will make him 
fast as well as pray, for I will not pay him a penny 
of his ten thousand crowns pension which he hath 
yearly for these respects." 



OF JAMES HOWELL 8i 

The Christian Church hath a longer and more 
solemn way of fasting than any other religion, 
take Lent and Ember weeks together. In some 
churches the Christian useth the old way of mor- 
tification by sackcloth and ashes to this day, which 
makes me think on a facetious tale of a Turkish 
ambassador in Venice, who being returned to Con- 
stantinople and asked what he had observed most 
remarkable in that so rare a city, he answered that 
among other things the Christian hath a kind of 
ashes, which thrown upon the head doth presently 
cure madness, for in Venice I saw the people go 
up and down the streets (said he) in ugly, antique, 
strange disguises, as being in the eye of human 
reason stark mad, but the next day (meaning Ash- 
Wednesday) they are suddenly cured of that mad- 
ness by a sort of ashes which they cast upon their 
heads. 

If the said ambassador were here among us, he 
would think our modern gallants were also all mad 
or subject to be mad, because they ash and powder 
their pericraniums all the year long. 

So, wishing you meditations suitable to the sea- 
son, and good thoughts which are best when they 
are the offsprings of good actions, I rest your 
ready and real friend, 

J. H. 

Ash-Wednesdayy 1654. 



82 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

VI 

To Mr R, Manwayring 

My DEAR Dick, 

IF you are as well when you read this as I was 
when I wrote it, we are both well. I am cer- 
tain of the one, but anxious of the other in regard 
of your so long silence. I pray at the return of 
this post let your pen pull out this thorn that hath 
got into my thoughts and let me have often room 
in yours, for you know I am your perfect friend, 

J.H. 

VII 

To Sir Edward Spencer, Knight 

1FIND by your last of the first current that 
your thoughts are much busied in forming 
your new commonwealth, and whereas the pro- 
vince that is allotted to me is to treat of a right 
way to govern the female sex, I hold my lot to be 
fallen upon a fair ground, and I will endeavor to 
husband it accordingly. I find also that for the 
establishment of this new republic you have culled 
out the choicest wits in all faculties, therefore I 
account it an honour that you have put me in the 
list, though the least of them. 

In every species of government, and indeed 



OF JAMES HOWELL S;^ 

among all societies of mankind (reclused orders 
and other regulars excepted), there must be a spe- 
cial care had of the female kind, for nothing can 
conduce more to the propagation and perpetuity 
of a republic than the well managing of that gentle 
and useful sex, for though they be accounted the 
weaker vessels, yet are they those in whom the 
whole mass of mankind is moulded, therefore they 
must not be used like saffron bags or verde bottles 
which are thrown into some by-corner when the 
wine and spice are taken out of them. 

It was an opinion truly befitting a Jew to hold, 
that woman is of an inferior creation to man, being 
made only for multiplication and pleasure, there- 
fore hath she no admittance into the body of the 
synagogue. Such another opinion was that of 
the pagan poet who stuttered out this verse, that 
there are but two good hours of any woman — 
Trjp fjiiav iv daXdfjLO), Trjv fxCav iv Oavdrcp: 
"Unam in thalamo, alteram in tumulo" (One 
hour in bed, the other in the grave). 

Moreover, I hold also that of the orator to be 
a wild extravagant speech, when he said, that if 
"women were not conterranean and mingled with 
men, angels would descend and dwell among us." 
But a far wilder speech was that of the Dog-philo- 
sopher, who termed women " necessary evils." Of 
this cynical sect, it seems, was he who would needs 
make orcus to be the anagram of uxor by contract- 
ing r, s into an x, "Uxor et orcus — idem." 

Yet I confess, that among this sex, as among 



84 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

men, there are some good, some bad, some virtu- 
ous, some vicious, and some of an indifferent nature 
in whom virtue makes a compensation for vice. If 
there was an Empress in Rome so cunning in her 
lust that she would take in no passenger until the 
vessel was freighted (for fear the resemblance of the 
child might discover the true father), there was a 
Zenobia in Asia who would suffer her husband to 
know her carnally no longer when once she found 
herself quick. If there were a Queen of France 
that poisoned her King, there was a Queen in 
England who, when her husband had been shot 
with an envenomed arrow in the Holy Land, 
sucked out the poison with her own mouth when 
none else would do it. If the Lady Barbara, wife 
to Sigismund, the Emperor, being advised by her 
ghostly father after his death to live like a turtle, 
having lost such a mate that the world had not 
the like, made this wanton answer, "Father, since 
you would have me to lead the life of a bird, why 
not of a sparrow as well as of a turtle .f^" (which she 
did afterwards) : I say if there were such a Lady 
Barbara, there was the Lady Beatrice, who after 
Henry her Emperor's death lived after like a dove, 
and immured herself in a monastic cell. But what 
shall I say of Queen Artemisia, who had an urn- 
ful of her husband Mausolus's ashes in her closet, 
whereof she would take down a dram every morn- 
ing next her heart, saying that her body was the 
fittest place to be a sepulchre to her dear husband, 
notwithstanding that she had erected such a tomb 



OF JAMES HOWELL 85 

for the rest of his body, that to this day is one of 
the wonders of the world ? 

Moreover, it cannot be denied but some fe- 
males are of a high and harsh nature, witness 
those that two of our greatest clerks for law and 
learning (Lords B. and C.) did meet withal, one 
of whom was said to have brought back her 
husband to his hornbook again. As also Moses' 
and Socrates' wives, who were Zipporah and Xan- 
tippe : you may guess at the humour of one in the 
Holy Code ; and for Xantippe, among many in- 
stances which might be produced, let this serve for 
one. After she had scolded her husband one day 
out of doors, as the poor man was going out, she 
whipped up into an upper loft and threw a pisspot 
full upon his sconce, which made the patient phil- 
osopher (or " foolosopher ") to break into this 
speech for the venting of his passion, " I thought 
after so much thunder we should have rain." To 
this may be added my neighbour Stroud's wife in 
Westminster, who once ringing him a peal as she 
was basting his roast (for he was a cook) after he 
had newly come from the tavern upon Sunday 
evening, she grew hotter and hotter against him, 
having hell and the devil in her mouth, to whom 
she often bequeathed him. The staring husband, 
having heard her a great while with silence, at last 
answered, " I prithee, sweetheart, do not talk so 
much to me of the devil, because I know he will 
do me no hurt, for I have married his kins- 
woman." I know there are many that wear horns 



86 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

and ride daily upon coltstaves, but this proceeds 
not so often from the fault of the female as the 
silliness of the husband, who knows not how to 
manage a wife. 

But a thousand such instances are not able to 
make me a misogynist, a female foe, therefore to- 
wards the policing and perpetuating of this your 
new republic, there must be some special rules for 
regulating of marriage; for a wife is the best or 
the worst fortune that can betide a man through- 
out the whole train of his life. Plato's promis- 
cuous concubitus or copulation is more proper 
for beasts than rational creatures. That incestu- 
ous custom they have in China, that one should 
marry his own sister, and in default of one, the 
next akin, I utterly dislike. Nor do I approve 
of that goatish latitude of lust which the Alcoran 
allows, for one man to have eight wives and as 
many concubines as he can well maintain. Nor 
of another branch of their law, that a man should 
marry after such an age under pain of mortal sin 
(for then what would become of me?). No, I 
would have every man left at liberty in this point, 
for there are men enough besides to people the 
earth. 

But that opinion of a poor shallow-brained 
puppy, who upon any cause of disaffection would 
have men to have a privilege to change their wives 
or repudiate them, deserves to be hissed at rather 
than confuted ; for nothing can tend more to 
usher in all confusion and beggary throughout 



OF JAMES HOWELL 87 

the world. Therefore that wiseacre deserves of 
all other to wear a toting horn. In this republic 
one man should be contented with one wife, and 
he may have work enough to do with her. But 
whereas in other commonwealths men use to wear 
invisible horns, it would be a wholesome constitu- 
tion that they who, upon too much jealousy and 
restraint or ill-usage of their wives, or indeed not 
knowing how to use and man them aright (which 
is one of the prime points of masculine discretion), 
as also they who, according to that barbarous cus- 
tom in Russia, do use to beat their wives duly 
once a week, but especially they who in their 
absence coop them up and secure their bodies with 
locks, I say it would be a very fitting ordinance 
in this new-moulded commonwealth that all such 
who impel their wives by these means to change 
their riders, should wear plain visible horns, that 
passengers may beware of them as they go along, 
and give warning to others, " Cornu ferit ille : ca- 
veto." For indeed nothing doth incite the mass 
of blood, and muster up libidinous thoughts, more 
than diffidence and restraint. 

Moreover, in coupling women by way of mat- 
rimony, it would be a good law, and consentan- 
eous to reason, if out of all dowries exceeding ;^too 
there should be two out of every cent, deducted 
and put into a common treasury for putting off 
hard-favoured and poor maids. 

Touching virginity and the vestal fire, I could 
wish it were the worst custom the Roman Church 



88 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

had, when gentle souls, to endear themselves the 
more unto their Creator, do immure their bodies 
within perpetual bounds of chastity, dieting them- 
selves and using austerities accordingly, whereby, 
bidding a farewell and dying unto the world, they 
bury themselves alive, as it were, and so pass their 
time in constant exercises of piety and penance 
night and day, or in some other employments of 
virtue, holding idleness to be a mortal sin. Were 
this cloistered course of life merely spontaneous 
and unforced, I could well be contented that it 
were practised in your new republic. 

But there are other kinds of cloisters in some 
commonwealths, and among those who are ac- 
counted the wisest and best policied, which cloisters 
are of a clean contrary nature to the former ; these 
they call the courtesan cloisters. And, as in 
others some females shut up themselves to keep 
the sacred fire of pudicity and continence, so in 
these latter there are some of the handsomest sorts 
of females who are connived at to quench the 
flames of irregular lust, lest they should break into 
the lawful married bed. It is true, nature hath 
poured more active and hotter blood into the veins 
of some men, wherein there are stronger appetites 
and motions, which motions were not given by 
nature to be a torment to man, but to be turned 
into delight, health and propagation. Therefore 
they to whom the gift of continence is denied, and 
have not the conveniency to have debita vasa^ and 
lawful coolers of their own by way of wedlock, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 89 

use to extinguish their fires in these venerean clois- 
ters rather than abuse their neighbours' wives, and 
break into other men's enclosures. But whether 
such a custom may be connived at in this your 
repubHc, and that such a common may be allowed 
to them who have no enclosures of their own, I 
leave to wiser legislators than myself to determine, 
especially in south-east hot countries, where ven- 
erean titillation (which Scaliger held to be a fixed 
outward sense, but ridiculously) is in a stronger 
degree; I say, I leave others to judge whether 
such a rendezvous be to be connived at in hotter 
climes, where both air, and food, and the blood 
of the grape do all concur to make one more libid- 
inous. But it is a vulgar error to think that the 
heat of the clime is the cause of lust. It proceeds 
rather from adust choler and melancholy that pre- 
dominate, which humours carry with them a salt 
and sharp itching quality. 

The dull Hollander (with other north-west na- 
tions, whose blood may be said to be as buttermilk 
in their veins) is not so frequently subject to such 
fits of lust, therefore he hath no such cloisters or 
houses for ladies of pleasure. Witness the tale of 
Hans Boobikin, a rich Boer's son, whom his father 
had sent abroad a-friaring, that is, shroving in our 
language, and so put him in an equipage accord- 
ingly, having a new sword and scarf, with a gold 
hatband, and money in his purse to visit handsome 
ladies. But Hans, not knowing where to go else, 
went to his grandmother's house, where he fell 



90 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

a-courting and feasting of her. But his father 
questioning him at his return where he had been 
a-friaring, and he answering that he had been 
at his grandmother's, the Boer replied, " God's 
Sacrament ! I hope thou hast not lain with my 
mother." "Yes," said Boobikin, "why should 
not I lie with your mother, as you have lain with 
mme r 

Thus, in conformity to your desires, and the task 
imposed upon me, have I scribbled out this piece of 
drollery, which is the way, as I take it, that your 
design drives at. I reserve some things till I see 
what others have done in the several provinces 
they have undertaken towards the settlement of 
your new republic. 

So with a thousand thanks for your last hospi- 
table favours, I rest, as I have reason, and as you 
know me to be, your own true servant, 

J. H. 

London, 24 of January, 



VIII 

Ti? Mr T, V.y Barrister, at his Chamber in the 
Temple 

Cousin Tom, 

I DID not think it was in the power of passion 
to have wrought upon you with that violence; 
for I do not remember to have known any (of so 



OF JAMES HOWELL 91 

seasoned a judgment as you are) lost so far after 
so frail a thing as a female; but you will say Her- 
cules himself stooped hitherto; it is true he did, 
as appears by this distich, 

Lenam non potuit, potuit superare Leaenam, 
Quern fera non potuit vincere, vicit Hera, 

The saying also of the old comic poet makes for 
you, when he said, " Qui in amorem cecidit pejus 
agit quam si saxo saliat " (To be tormented with 
love is worse than to dance upon hot stones). 
Therefore, partly out of a sense of your suffering, 
as well as upon the seriousness of your request, but 
especially understanding that the gentlewoman 
hath parts and portion accordingly, I have done 
what you desired me in these lines ; which though 
plain, short and sudden, yet they display the man- 
ner how you were surprised, and the depth of your 
passion : 

To Mrs E. B. 

Apelles, prince of painters, did 

All others in that art exceed. 

But you surpass him, for he took 

Some pains and time to draw a look ; 
You in a trice and moment's space 
Have portrayed in my heart your face. 

I wish this hexastic may have power to strike 
her as deep as I find her eyes struck you. The 
Spaniard saith there are four things required in 
a woer, viz., to be savio, secreto^ solo and sollicitOy 
that is, to be solicitous, secret,, sole and sage. Ob- 



92 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

serve these rules, and she may make herself your 
client, and so employ you to open her case, and 
recover her portion, which I hear is in hucksters' 
hands. 

So, my dear cousin, I heartily wish you the 
accomplishment of your desires, and rest upon all 
occasions at your disposal, 

J. H. 



IX 

To Sir R, Williams y Knight 

Sir, 
AM one among many who much rejoice at the 



I 



fortunate windfall that happened lately, which 
hath so fairly raised and recruited your fortunes. 
It is commonly seen that " Ubi est multum phan- 
tasiae (viz., ingenii) ibi est parum fortunae, et ubi 
est multum fortunae ibi est parum phantasiae" 
(Where there is much of fancy, there is little of 
fortune, and where there is much of fortupe, there 
is little of fancy). It seems that Recorder Fleet- 
wood reflected upon one part of this saying, when, 
in his speech to the Londoners, among other 
passages, whereby he soothed and stroked them, 
he said, "When I consider your wit, I admire your 
wealth." But touching the Latin saying, it is quite 
evinced in you, for you have fancy and fortune 
(now) in abundance. And a strong argument may 
be drawn, that fortune is not blind by her carriage 



OF JAMES HOWELL 93 

to you, for she saw well enough what she did, 
when she smiled so lately upon you. 

Now, he is the really rich man who can make 
true use of his riches. He makes not nummum 
his numen, money his God, but makes himself 
dominum nummi, but becomes master of his 
penny. The first is the arrantest beggar and slave 
that is ; nay, he is worse than the Arcadian ass, who, 
while he carrieth gold on his back, eats thistles. 

Now, it is observed to be the nature of covetous- 
ness, that when all other sins grow old, covetous- 
ness in some sordid souls grows younger and 
younger, hence I believe sprung the city proverb, 
"That the son is happy whose father went to the 
devil." Yet I like the saying Tom Waters hath 
often in his mouth, " I had rather leave when I die, 
than lack while I live.'* But why do I speak of 
these things to you who have so noble a soul, 
and so much above the vulgar? 

Your friend Mr Watts is still troubled with 
coughing, and truly I believe he is not to be long 
among us ; for, as the Turk hath it, " A dry 
cough is the trumpeter of death.'* He presents 
his most affectionate respects unto you, and so 
doth, my most noble knight, your ever obliged 
servitor, 

J. H. 



94 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

X 

To Sir R. Cary^ Knight 

1H AD yours of the 20th current on St Thomas's 
Eve, which was most welcome unto me ; and 
(to make a seasonable comparison) yours are like 
Christmas, they come but once a year; yet I made 
very good cheer with your last, especially with that 
seraphic hymn which came enclosed therewith to 
usher in his holy tide ; and to correspond with 
you in some measure that way, I have returned you 
another of the same subject. For as I have observed, 
two lutes being tuned alike, if one of them be 
played upon, the other, though being a good way 
distant, will sound of itself, and keep symphony 
with the first that *s played upon (which, whether 
it proceeds from the mere motion of the air or 
the emanation of atoms, I will not undertake to 
determine). So the sound of your muse hath 
screwed up mine to the same key and tune in 
these ternaries : 

Upon the Nativity of Our Saviour 

1 . Wonder of wonders, earth and sky. 
Time mingleth with eternity 

And matter with immensity. 

2. The sun becomes an atom, and a star 
Turns to a candle to light kings from far 
To see a spectacle so wondrous rare. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 95 

3. A virgin bears a Son, that Son doth bear 
A world of sin, acquitting man's arrear 
Since guilty Adam fig-tree leaves did wear. 

4. A Majesty both infinite and just 
Offended was, therefore the offering must 
Be such, to expiate frail flesh and dust. 

5. When no such victim could be found 
Throughout the whole expansive round 
Of heaven, of air, of sea, or ground, 

6. The Prince of Life Himself descends 
To make Astraea full amends. 

And human souls from hell defends. 

7. Was ever such a love as this. 
That the eternal Heir of bliss 
Should stoop to such a low abyss ? 

The muse, confounded with the mystery, ac- 
cording to the subject-matter, ends with a ques- 
tion of admiration. 

So, wishing you as heartily as to myself 
(according to the instant season and the old 
compliment of England) a merry Christmas, and 
consequently a happy new year, I subscribe 
myself, your entirely devoted servant, 

J. H. 

«S*/ Innocent's Day^ 1654. 



96 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XI 

To y. Sutton, Esq, 

WHEREAS you desire my opinion of the 
late history translated by Mr Wad. of the 
civil wars of Spain in the beginning of Charles the 
Emperor's reign, I cannot choose but tell you that 
it is a faithful and pure maiden story, never blown 
upon before in any language but in Spanish, 
therefore very worthy your perusal. For among 
those various kinds of studies that your contem- 
plative soul delights in, I hold history to be the 
most fitting to your quality. 

Now, among those sundry advantages which 
accrue to a reader of history, one is that no mod- 
ern accident can seem strange unto him, much 
less astonish him. He will leave off wondering 
at anything, in regard he may remember to have 
read of the same, or much like the same that 
happened in former times ; therefore he doth not 
stand staring like a child at every unusual specta- 
cle, like that simple American, who, the first time 
he saw a Spaniard on horseback, thought the man 
and the beast to be but one creature, and that 
the horse did chew the rings of his bit and eat 
them. 

Now, indeed, not to be an historian, that is not 
to know what foreign nations and our forefathers 
did, Hoc est semper esse puer, as Cicero hath it, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 97 

this is still to be a child who gazeth at everything. 
Whence may be inferred there is no knowledge 
that ripeneth the judgment, and puts one out of 
his nonage sooner than history. 

If I had not formerly read the Barons' Wars in 
England, I had more admired that of the Leaguers 
in France. He who had read the near upon four 
score years* wars in Low Germany, I believe never 
wondered at the late thirty years' wars in High 
Germany. I had wondered^ more that Richard of 
Bordeaux was knocked down with halberts, had 
I not read formerly that Edward of Carnarvon 
was made away by a hot iron thrust up his fun- 
dament. It was strange that Murat the Ottoman 
Emperor should be lately strangled in his own 
court at Constantinople, yet considering that Os- 
man, his predecessor, had been knocked down by 
one of his ordinary slaves not many years before, 
it was not strange at all : the blazing star in Virgo 
thirty-four years since did not seem strange to 
him who had read of that which appeared in Cas- 
siopoeia and other constellations some years before. 
Hence may be inferred, that history is the great 
looking-glass through which we may behold with 
ancestral eyes, not only the various actions of 
ages past, and the odd accidents that attend time, 
but also discern the different humours of men, 
and feel the pulse of former times. 

This history will display the very intrinsicals 
of the Castilian, who goes for the prime Spaniard, 
and make the opinion a paradox, which cries him 



98 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

up to be so constant to his principles, so royal to 
his prince, and so conformable to government, for 
it will discover as much levity and tutnultuary 
passions in him as in other nations. 

Among divers other examples which could be 
produced out of this story, I will instance one. 
When Juan de Padillia, an infamous fellow, and 
of base extraction, was made general of the people, 
among others there was a priest, that being a great 
zealot for him, used to pray publicly in the church, 
" Let us pray for the holy commonalty, and His 
Majesty Don Juan de Padillia, and for the Lady 
Donna Maria Pacheco his wife," etc. But a Httle 
after some of Juan de Padillia*s soldiers having 
quartered in his house, and pitifully plundered 
him, the next Sunday the same priest said in the 
church, " Beloved Christians, you know how 
Juan de Padillia passing this way, some of his 
brigade were billeted in my house ; truly they 
have not left me one chicken, they have drunk up 
a whole barrel of wine, devoured my bacon, and 
taken away my Catalina, my maid Kate ; I charge 
you therefore to pray no more for him." Divers 
such traverses as these may be read in that story, 
which may be the reason why It was suppressed in 
Spain, that it should not cross the seas, or clam- 
ber over the Pyrenees to acquaint other nations 
with their foolery and baseness ; yet Mr Simon 
Digby, a gentleman of much worth, got a copy, 
which he brought over with him, out of which 
this translation is derived, though I must tell you 



OF JAMES HOWELL 99 

by-the-bye, that some passages were commanded 
to be omitted, because they had too near an ana- 
logy with our times. 

So in a serious way of true friendship, I profess 
myself your most affectionate servitor, 

J. H. 

London, 15 January. 



XII 

To the Lord Marquis of Dorchester 

My Lord, 

THERE is a sentence that carrieth a high 
sense with it, viz., Ingenia principum fata 
temporum (The fancy of the prince is the fate of 
the times), so in point of peace or war, oppression 
or justice, virtue or vice, profaneness or devotion, 
for Regis ad exemplum. But there is another say- 
ing which is as true, viz.. Genius plebis est fatum 
principis (The happiness of the prince depends 
upon the humour of the people). There cannot 
be a more pregnant example hereof, than in that 
successful and long-lived queen. Queen Eliza- 
beth, who, having come as it were from the scaf- 
fold to the throne, enjoyed a wonderful calm 
(excepting some short gusts of insurrection that 
happened in the beginning), for near upon forty- 
five years together. But this, my Lord, may be 
imputed to the temper of the people, who had 



lOO FAMILIAR LETTERS 

had a boisterous king not long before, with so 
many revolutions in religion, and a minor king 
afterward which made them to be governed by 
their fellow subjects. And the fire and faggot 
being frequent among them in Queen Mary*s 
days, the humours of the common people were 
pretty well spent, and so were willing to conform 
to any government that might preserve them and 
their estates in quietness. Yet in the reign of 
that so popular and well-beloved Queen, there 
were many traverses which trenched as much if 
not more upon the privileges of Parhament, and 
the liberties of the people, than any that happened 
in the reign of the two last kings, yet it was not 
their fate to be so popular. Touching the first, 
viz.. Parliament, in one of hers, there was a motion 
made in the House of Commons that there should 
be a lecture in the morning some days of the week 
before they sat, whereunto the House was very 
inclinable. The Queen hearing of it sent them 
a message that she much wondered at their rash- 
ness, that they should offer to introduce such an 
innovation. 

Another Parliament would have proposed ways 
for the regulation of her Court ; but she sent 
them another such message, that she wondered 
that being called by her thither to consult of 
public affairs, they should intermeddle with the 
government of her ordinary family, and to think 
her to be so ill a housewife as not to be able to 
look to her own house herself. 



OF JAMES HOWELL loi 

In another Parliament there was a motion made 
that the Queen should entail the succession of the 
Crown and declare her next heir ; but Wentworth, 
who proposed it, was committed to the Tower, 
where he breathed his last ; and Bromley, upon 
a less occasion, was clapped in the Fleet. 

Another time, the House petitioning that the 
Lords might join in private committees with the 
Commoners, she utterly rejected it. You know 
how Stubbs and Page had their hands cut off 
with a butcher's knife and a mallet because they 
writ against the match with the Duke of Anjou ; 
and Penry was hanged at Tyburn, though Alured, 
who wrote a bitter invective against the late Span- 
ish match, was but confined for a short time ; how 
Sir John Heywood was shut up in the Tower for 
an epistle dedicatory to the Earl of Essex, etc. 

Touching her favourites, what a monster of a 
man was Leicester, who first brought the art of 
poisoning into England ? How many of her 
maids of honour did receive claps at Court ? Add 
hereunto that Privy Seals were common in her 
days, and pressing of men more frequent, espe- 
cially for Ireland, where they were sent in handfuls 
rather to continue a war (by the cunning of the 
officers) than to conclude it. The three fleets she 
sent against the Spaniard did hardly make the 
benefit of the voyages to countervail the charge. 
How poorly did the English garrison quit Havre 
de Grace ! and how were we baffled for the arrears 
that were due unto England (by article) for the 



I02 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

forces sent into France ! For buildings, with all 
kind of braveries else that used to make a nation 
happy, as riches and commerce inward and out- 
ward, it was not the twentieth part so much in 
the best of her days (as appears by the Custom 
House book) as it was in the reign of her success- 
ors. 

Touching the religion of the Court, she seldom 
came to sermon but in Lent time, nor did there 
use to be any sermon upon Sundays unless they 
were festivals; whereas the succeeding kings had 
duly two every morning, one for the household, 
the other for themselves, where they were always 
present, as also at private prayers in the closet ; 
yet it was not their fortune to gain so much upon 
the affections of city or country. Therefore, my 
Lord, the felicity of Queen Elizabeth may be 
much imputed to the rare temper and moderation 
of men's minds in those days, for the pulse of the 
common people and Londoners did beat nothing 
so high as it did afterwards when they grew pam- 
pered with so long peace and plenty. Add here- 
unto that neither Hans, Jocky, nor John Calvin 
had taken such footing here as they did get after- 
wards, whose humour is to pry and peep with 
a kind of malice into the carriage of the Court and 
mysteries of State, as also to malign nobility, with 
the wealth and solemnities of the Church. 

My Lord, it is far from my meaning hereby to 
let drop the least aspersion upon the tomb of that 
rare renowned Queen, but it is only to observe the 



OF JAMES HOWELL 103 

differing temper both of time and people. The 
fame of some princes is like the rose, which, as 
we find by experience, smells sweeter after it is 
plucked. The memory of others is like the tulip 
and poppy, which make a gay show and fair 
flourish while they stand upon the stalk, but 
being cut down, they give an ill-favoured scent. 
It was the happiness of that great long-lived 
Queen to cast a pleasing odour among her people 
both while she stood and after she was cut off 
by the common stroke of mortality ; and the older 
the world grows the fresher her fame will be. 
Yet she is little beholden to any foreign writers, 
unless it be the Hollanders, and good reason 
they had to speak well of her, for she was the 
chiefest instrument who, though with the expense 
of much English blood and bullion, raised them 
to a republic, by casting that fatal bone for the 
Spaniard to gnaw upon, which shook his teeth so 
ill-favouredly for fourscore years together. Other 
writers speak bitterly of her for her carriage to 
her sister the Queen of Scots, for her ingratitude 
to her brother Philip of Spain, for giving advice 
by her ambassador with the Great Turk to expel 
the Jesuits, who had got a college in Pera, as also 
that her secretary Walsingham should project 
the poisoning of the waters of Douay ; and 
lastly, how she suffered the Festival of the Nativ- 
ity of the Virgin Mary in September to be turned 
to the celebration of her own birthday, etc. But 
these stains are cast upon her by her enemies; 



I04 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

and the aspersions of an enemy used to be like 
the dirt of oysters, which doth rather cleanse 
than contaminate. 

Thus, my Lord, have I pointed at some remarks, 
to show how various and discrepant the humours 
of a nation may be, and the genius of the times, 
from what it was ; which doubtless must proceed 
from a high all-disposing Power — a speculation 
that may become the greatest and knowingest 
spirits, among whom your Lordship doth shine as 
a star of the first magnitude, for your house may 
be called a true academy, and your head the Cap- 
itol of knowledge, or rather an exchequer, wherein 
there is treasure enough to give pensions to all 
the wits of the time. With these thoughts I rest, 
my most highly honoured Lord, your very obe- 
dient and ever obliged servitor, 

J. H. 

London, 15 August, 

XIII 
To Mr R. Floyd 

Cousin Floyd, 

THE first part of wisdom is to give good coun- 
sel, the second to take it, and the third to 
follow it. Though you be young, yet you may be 
already capable of the two latter parts of wisdom, 
and it is the only way to attain the first. There- 
fore I wish you to follow the good counsel of 



OF JAMES HOWELL 105 

your Uncle J., for I know him to be a very dis- 
creet well-weighed gentleman, and I can judge 
something of men, for I have studied many. 
Therefore if you steer by his compass in this great 
business you have undertaken you need not fear 
shipwreck. This is the advice of your truly affec- 
tionate cousin, J. H. 
London, 6 April. 

XIV 

To my Reverend and Learned Countryman^ 
Mr R. jfones 

IT is, among many others, one of my imper- 
fections that I am not versed in my maternal 
tongue so exactly as I should be. The reason is 
that languages and words (which are the chief 
creatures of man, and the keys of knowledge) may 
be said to stick in the memory like nails or pegs 
in a wainscot door, which used to thrust out one 
another oftentimes. Yet the old British is not so 
driven out of mine (for the cask savours still of 
the liquor it first took in) but I can say some- 
thing of this elaborate and ingenious piece of yours 
which you please to communicate unto me so early. 
I cannot compare it more properly than to a basket 
of posies gathered in the best garden of flowers, the 
Sacred Scriptures, and bound up with such art that 
every flower directs us where his bed may be found. 
Whence I infer that this work will much conduce 



io6 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

to the advancement of Bt^SXiocroc^ia or Scripture 
knowledge, and consequently to the public good. 
It will also tend to the honour of our whole coun- 
try, and to your own particular repute. There- 
fore I wish you good success to make this child 
of your brain free denizen of the world. 

J. H. 
London, 17 September, 

XV 
To y. S,y Esq,y at Whitefriars 

THIS new piece of philosophy comes to usher 
in the New Year unto you, dropped from 
the brain of the subtlest spirits of France, and the 
great personage (the Duke of Espernon), though 
heterodoxal and cross-grained to the old philo- 
sophers. Among divers other tenets he holds 
that Privatio is unworthy to be one of the three 
principles of natural things, and would put Love 
in the place of it. But you know, sir, that among 
other infirmities which Nature hath entailed upon 
man while he gropes here for truth among the 
elements, discrepancy of notions and desire of 
novelty are none of the least. 

Now, touching this critical tract there is not any 
more capable to censure it than yourself, whose 
judgment is known to be so sound and magis- 
terial. Let the pettiness of the gift be supplied 
by the pregnancy of the will, which swells with 



OF JAMES HOWELL 107 

mountains of desires to serve you, and to show in 
action, as well as in words, how ready I would be 
at your disposing, 

J. H. 

London, 2 January, 

XVI 

To the Earl of Lindsey, Great Chamberlain 
of England^ at Ricot 

My Lord, 

1MOST humbly thank your Lordship for the 
noble present you commanded to be sent me 
from Grimthorpe, where, without disparagement 
to any, I may say you live as much like a prince 
as any grandee in Christendom. Among those 
many heroic parts (which appeared so much in 
that tough battle of Kinton, where having all your 
officers killed, yet you kept the field and preserved 
your wounded father from the fury of the soldier 
and from death for the time; as also for being the 
inseparablest cubicular companion the King took 
comfort in in the height of his troubles), I say, 
among other high parts to speak you noble, you 
are cried up, my Lord, to be an excellent horse- 
man, huntsman, forester. This makes me bold 
to make your Lordship the judge of a small dis- 
course, which upon a critical dispute touching the 
vocal forest that goes abroad in my name, was 
imposed upon me to satisfy them who thought 



io8 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

I knew something more than ordinary, what be- 
longed to a true forest. 

There be three places for venery or venatical 
pleasure in England, viz., a forest, a chase, and 
a park. They all three agree in one thing, which 
is that they are habitations for wild beasts. The 
two first lie open, the last enclosed. The forest 
is the most noble of all, for it is a franchise of so 
princely a tenure, that, according to our laws, none 
but the King can have a forest. If he chance to 
pass one over to a subject it is no more forest but 
frank chase. Moreover, a forest hath the pre-emi- 
nence of the other two, in laws, in officers, in courts 
and kinds of beasts. If any offend in a chase or 
park, he is punishable by the common law of the 
land; but a forest hath laws of her own to take 
cognisance of all trespasses. She hath also her 
peculiar officers as foresters, verderers, regarders, 
agisters, etc., whereas a chase or park hath only 
keepers and woodwards. A forest hath her court of 
attachments. Swainmote Court, where matters are 
as pleadable and determinable as at Westminster 
Hall. Lastly, they differ something in the species 
of beasts; the hart, the hind, the boar, the wolf are 
forest beasts. The buck, the doe, the fox, the 
matron, the roe are beasts belonging to a chase 
and park. 

The greatest forester, they say, that ever was in 
England was King Canute the Dane, and after him 
St Edward, at which time Liber Rufus, the red 
book for forest laws, was made, whereof one of 



OF JAMES HOWELL 109 

the laws was " Omnis homo astineat a venariis mels 
super paenam vitae" (Let every one refrain from 
my places of hunting upon pain of death). 

Henry Fitz Empress (viz., the Second) did co- 
aforest much land, which continued all his reign, 
though much complained of. But in King John's 
time most of the nobles and gentry met in the 
great meadow betwixt Windsor and Staines to 
petition the King that he would disaforest some, 
which he promised to do, but death prevented 
him. But in Henry the Third's time the Charter 
de Foresta (together with Magna Charta) were 
established, so that there was much land disafor- 
ested, which hath been called pourlieus ever since, 
whereof there were appointed rangers, etc. 

Among other innocent animals which have suf- 
fered by these wars, the poor deer have felt the 
fury thereof as much as any. Nay, the very vege- 
tables have endured the brunt of it. Insomuch 
that it is not improperly said that England of late 
is full of new lights, her woods being cut down, 
and so much destroyed in most places. So craving 
your Lordship's pardon for this rambling piece 
of paper, I rest my most highly honoured Lord, 
your obedient and ever obliged servant, 

J.H. 

London, 3 August. 



no FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XVII 

To Mr £. Fieldy at Orleans 

IN your last you write to me that you are set- 
tled for a while in Orleans, the loveliest city 
upon the Loire and the best school for gaining 
pure language, for as the Attic dialect in Greece, 
so the Aurelian in France doth bear the bell. But 
I must tell you, though you live now upon a brave 
river that divides France well near in two parts, 
yet she is held the drunkenest river in Christen- 
dom, for she swallows thirty-two other rivers, 
which she disgorgeth all into the sea at Nantes. 
She may be called a more drunken river than 
Ebro in Spain, which takes her name from Ebrio, 
according to the proverb there, "Me llamo Ebro 
porque de todas aguas bevo " (I call myself Ebro 
because I drink of all waters). 

Moreover, though you sojourn now in one of 
the plentifulest continents upon earth, yet I believe 
you will find the people, I mean the peasants, no- 
where poorer and more slavish, which convinceth 
two errors, one of Aristotle, who affirms that the 
country of Gallia, though bordering upon Spain, 
hath no asses. If he were living now he would 
avouch the greatest part of the inhabitants to be all 
asses, they lie under such an intolerable burden 
of taxes. The second error is, that France is held 
to be the freest country upon earth to all people. 



OF JAMES HOWELL iii 

for if a slave comes once to breathe French air, 
he is free ipso facto^ if we may believe Bodin, it 
being a fundamental law of France, "Servi pere- 
grini, ut primum Galliae fines penetraverintae liberi 
sunto " (Let stranger slaves, as soon as they shall 
penetrate the borders of France, be free). I know 
not what privilege strangers may claim, but for 
the native French themselves, I hold them to be 
under the greatest servitude of any other nation. 
There is another law in France which inhibits 
women to rule, but what benefit doth accrue by 
this law all the while that women are regent and 
govern those who do rule ? which hath been ex- 
emplified in three queen-mothers together. The 
Huguenots have long since voted the first two to 
hell to increase the number of the furies, and the 
Spaniard hath voted the third thither to make up 
the half-dozen, for continuing a more violent war 
against her now only brother, and with more eager- 
ness than her husband did. 

So I wish you all happiness in your peregrination, 
advising you to take heed of that turbid humour 
of melancholy, which they say you are too prone 
unto, for take this for a rule, that he who makes 
much of melancholy will never be rid of a trouble- 
some companion. So I rest, gentle sir, your most 
affectionate servitor, 

J.H. 

London, 3 May, 



112 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XVIII 

To the Lady £., Countess Dowager of Sunderland 

Madam, 

I AM bold to send your Ladyship to the country 
a new Venice looking-glass wherein you may 
behold that admired maiden city in her true com- 
plexion, together with her government and policy, 
for which she is famous all the world over. There- 
fore if at your hours of leisure you please to cast 
your eyes upon this glass, I doubt not but it will 
afford you some objects of entertainment and 
pleasure. 

Moreover, your Ladyship may discern through 
this glass the motions, and the very heart of the 
author, how he continueth still, and resolves so to 
do in what condition soever he be, madam, your 
most constant and dutiful servant, J. H. 

London, 15 Junii, 

XIX 

To the R. H.y the Earl of Clare 

My Lord, 

AMONG those high parts that go to make 
up a grandee, which I find concentred in 
your Lordship, one is, the exact knowledge you 
have of many languages, not in a superficial, va- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 113 

pouring way, as some of our gallants have nowa- 
days, but in a most exact manner, both in point 
of practice and theory. This induced me to give 
your Lordship an account of a task that was im- 
posed lately upon me by an emergent occasion 
touching the origin, the growth, the changes, and 
present consistence of the French language, which 
I hope may afford your Lordship some entertain- 
ment. 

There is nothing so incident to all sublunary 
things as corruptions and changes, nor is it to be 
wondered at, considering that the elements them- 
selves, which are the principles or primitive ingre- 
dients whereof they be compounded, are naturally 
so qualified. It were as easy a thing for the spec- 
tator's eye to fasten a firm shape upon a running 
cloud, or to cut out a garment that but a few days 
together might fit the moon (who by privilege 
of her situation and neighbourhood predominates 
more over us than any other celestial body), as to 
find stability in anything here below. 

Nor is this common frailty, or fatality rather, 
incident only to the grosser sort of elementary 
creatures, but mankind, upon whom it pleased the 
Almighty to imprint His own image, and make 
him as it were lord paramount of this lower world, 
is subject to the same lubricity of mutation, neither 
is his body and blood only liable thereunto, but 
the ideas of his mind, and interior operations of 
his soul. Religion herself with the notions of 
holiness, and the formality of saving faith not 



114 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

excepted, nay, the very faculty of reason (as we 
find it too true by late experience), is subject to 
the same unstableness. 

But to come to our present purpose, among 
other privileges which are peculiar to mankind, as 
emanations flowing from the intellect, language is 
none of the least. And languages are subject to 
the same fits of inconstancy and alteration as much 
as anything else, especially the French language. 
Nor can it seem strange to those who know the 
airy volatile humour of that nation, that their 
speech should partake somewhat of the disposition 
of their spirit, but will rather wonder it hath re- 
ceived no oftener change, especially considering 
what outward causes did also concur thereunto, as 
that their kings should make six several voyages 
to conquer or conserve what was got in the Holy 
Land, considering also how long the English, 
being a people of another speech, kept firm foot- 
ing in the heart of France. Add hereunto the 
wars and weddings they had with their neigh- 
bours, which, by the long sojourn of their armies 
in other countries caused by the first, and- the 
foreign courtiers that came in with the second, 
might introduce a frequent alteration. For lan- 
guages are like laws or coins, which commonly 
receive some change at every shift of princes. Or 
as slow rivers by insensible alluvions take in and 
let out the waters that feed them, yet are they said 
to have the same beds, so languages, by a regard- 
less adoption of some new words and manumission 



OF JAMES HOWELL 115 

of old, do often vary, yet the whole bulk of the 
speech keeps entire. 

Touching the true ancient and genuine language 
of the Gauls, some would have it to be a dialect of 
the Dutch, others of the Greek, and some of the 
British or Welsh. Concerning this last opinion, 
there be many reasons to fortify it, which are not 
altogether to be slighted. 

The first is, that the ancient Gauls used to come 
frequently to be instructed here by the British 
Druids, who were the divines and philosophers of 
those times, which they would not probably have 
done, unless by mutual communication they had 
understood one another in some vulgar language, 
few this was before the Greek or Latin came this 
side the Alps, or that any books were written, and 
there are no meaner men than Tacitus, and Caesar 
himself, who record this. 

The second reason is, that there want not 
good geographers who hold that this island was 
tied to Gallia at first (as some say Sicily was to 
Calabria and Denmark to Germany) by an isth- 
mus or neck of land from Calais to Dover; for 
if one do well observe the quality of the cliffs on 
both shores, his eye will judge that they were 
but one homogeneous piece of earth at first, and 
that they were slented and shivered asunder by 
some act of violence, as the impetuous waves of 
the sea. 

The third reason is, that before the Romans 
conquered the Gauls, the country was called Wal- 



ii6 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

lia, which the Romans called Gallia, turning W 
into G, as they did elsewhere, yet the Walloon 
keeps his radical letter to this day. 

The fourth reason is, that there be divers old 
Gaulic words yet remaining in the French which are 
pure British both for sense and pronunciation, as 
havre, a haven, which is the same in Welsh ; 
derechef, again; putaine, a whore; arrain, brass 
money; prou, an interjection of stopping, or 
driving of a beast ; but especially when one speaks 
any old word in French that cannot be under- 
stood, they say, " II parle baragouin," which is to 
this day in Welsh white bread. 

Lastly, Pausanias, saith, that "mark" in the 
Celtic Old French tongue signifieth a horse, and 
it signifieth the same in Welsh. 

But though it be disputable whether the British, 
Greek, or Dutch was the original language of the 
Gauls, certain it is that it was the Walloon ; but I 
confine myself to Gallia Celtica, which, when the 
Roman eagle had fastened his talons there, and 
planted twenty-three legions up and down the 
country, he did in tract of time utterly extinguish ; 
it being the ordinary ambition of Rome where- 
soever she prevailed, to bring in her language and 
laws also with the lance, which yet she could not 
do in Spain or this island, because they had posts 
and places of fastness to retire unto, as Biscay and 
Wales, where nature hath cast up those moun- 
tains as propugnacles of defence, therefore the 
very aboriginal languages of both countries re- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 117 

main there to this day. Now, France being a pass- 
able and plain pervious continent, the Romans 
quickly diffused and rooted themselves in every 
part thereof, and so co-planted their language, 
which in a short revolution of time came to be 
called Romance. But when the Franconians, a 
people of Germany, came afterwards to invade 
and possess Gallia, both speech and people were 
called French ever after, which is near 1300 years 
since. 

Now, as all other things have their degrees 
of growing, so languages have before they attain 
a perfection. We find that the Latin herself in 
the times of the Sabines was but rude, afterwards 
under Ennius and Cato the Censor it was refined 
in twelve tables; but in Caesar's, Cicero's, and 
Sallust's time it came to the highest pitch of 
purity, and so dainty were the Romans of their 
language then, that they would not suffer any 
exotic or strange word to be enfranchised among 
them, or enter into any of their diplomatae and 
public instruments of command or justice. The 
word emblema having got into one, it was thrust 
out by an express edict of the Senate, but monopo- 
lium had with much ado leave to stay in, yet not 
without a large preface and apology. A little after, 
the Latin tongue in the vulgarity thereof began to 
degenerate and decline very much, out of which 
degeneration sprang up the Italian, Spanish, and 
French. 

Now, the French language being set thus upon 



ii8 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

a Latin stock, hath received since sundry habitudes, 
yet retaining to this day some Latin words entire, 
as animal, cadaver, tribunal, non, plus, qui, os, 
with a number of others. 

Childeric, one of the first race of French Kings, 
commanded by public edict that the four Greek 
letters <|), X, @, ^ should be added to the French 
alphabet to make the language more masculine 
and strenuous, but afterwards it was not long 
observed. 

Nor is it a worthless observation, that languages 
use to comply with the humour, and to display 
much the inclination of a people. The French 
nation is quick and spiritful, so is his pronuncia- 
tion. The Spaniard is slow and grave, so is his 
pronunciation; for the Spanish and French lan- 
guages being but branches of the Latin tree, the 
one may be called Latin shortened, and the other 
Latin drawn out at length, as corpus, tempus, caput, 
etc., are monosyllables in French, as corps, temps, 
caps, or chef; whereas the Spaniard doth add to 
them, as cuerpo, tiempo, cabeca; and indeed of 
any other the Spaniard affects long words, for he 
makes some thrice as long as they are in French, 
as of levement, arising, he makes levantamiento; 
of pensee, a thought, he makes pensamiento; of 
compliment, he makes complimiento. Besides, the 
Spaniard doth use to pause so in his pronuncia- 
tion, that his tongue seldom foreruns his wit, and 
his brain may very well raise and superfoete a sec- 
ond thought before the first be uttered. Yet is not 



OF JAMES HOWELL 119 

the French so hasty in his utterance as he seems to 
be, for his quickness or volubility proceeds partly 
from that concatenation he useth among his syl- 
lables, by linking the syllable of the precedent 
word with the last of the following, so that some- 
times a whole sentence is made in a manner but one 
word, and he who will speak the French roundly 
and well, must observe this rule. 

The French language began first to be polished, 
and arrive to that deHcacy she is now come unto 
in the midst of the reign of Philip de Valois. 
Marot did something under Francis the First 
(which King was a restorer of learning in general, 
as well as of language), but Ronsard did more 
under Henry the Second. Since these kings there 
is little difference in the context of speech, but only 
in the choice of words and softness of pronuncia- 
tion proceeding from such wanton spirits that did 
miniardise and make the language more dainty and 
feminine. 

But to show what changes the French hath 
received from what it was, I will produce these few 
instances in verse and prose which I found in 
some ancient authors. The first shall be of a 
gentlewoman that translated " /Esop's Fables " 
many hundred years since out of English into 
French, where she concludes : 

Au finement de ccst' escrit 
Qu'en Romans ay tourne et dit ; 
Me nommaray par remembrance 
Marie ay nom je suis de France ; 



I20 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Per r amour de Conte Guillaume 
Le plus vaillant de ce Royaume, 
M'entremis de ce livre faire 
Et de L'Anglois en Roman traire, 
Esope appelle I'on cil Livre, 
Qu'on translata et sit Escrivre ; 
De Griec en Latin le tourna, 
Et le R07 Alvert qui I'ama, 
Le translata puis en Angloiz, 
Et je I'ay tourne en Francois. 

Out of the " Roman de la Rose " I will pro- 
duce this example : 

Quand ta bouche toucha la moye, 
Ce fut dont au Coeur j'eus joye ; 
Sire Juge, donnes sentence 
Par moy. Car la pucelle est moye. 

Two of the most ancient and appro vedest 
authors in French are Geoffrey de Villardouin, 
Marshal of Champagne, and Hugues de Bersy, 
a monk of Clugny in the reign of Philippe 
Auguste above 500 years since. From them I 
will borrow these two ensuing examples, the first 
from the Marshal, upon a crusade to the Holy 
Land. 

" Scachiez que Tan 11 88 ans apres I'incarnation 
al temps Innocent III, apostoille de Rome, et 
Philippe Roy de France, et Richard Roy d'En- 
gleterre eut un Saint homme en France, qui eut 
nom Folque de Nuilly, et il ere prestre, et tenoit 
le pariochre de la ville, et ce Folque commen9a a 
parler de Biex, et nostre sire fit manits miracles 
par luy," etc. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 121 

Hugues de Bersy who made the Guiot Bible so 
much spoken of in France, begins thus in verse : 

D'oun siecle puant et horrible 
M'estuet commencer une Bible, 
Per poindre, et per aiguillonner 
Et per bons exemples donner, 
Ce n'est une Bible bisongere 
Mais fine, et voire en droituriere 
Mironer est a toutis gens. 

If one would compare the English that was 
spoken in those times, which is about 560 years 
since, with the present, he should find a greater 
alteration. 

But to know how much the modern French 
differs from the ancient, let him read our common 
law, which was held good French in William the 
Conqueror's time. 

Furthermore, among other observations, I find 
that there are some single words antiquated in the 
French, which seem to be more significant than 
those that are come in their places, as maratre^ 
paratre^fiUatre, serourge (a stepmother, a stepfather, 
a son or daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law), which 
now they express in two words, belle mere^ beau 
pere, belle sceur. Moreover, I find there are some 
words now in French which are turned to a 
counter-sense, as we use the Dutch word crank in 
English to be " well-disposed," which in the orig- 
inal signifieth to be sick. So in French cocu is 
taken for one whose wife is light, and hath made 
him a passive cuckold ; whereas, clean contrary 



ICL2 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

cocu, which is the cuckoo, doth use to lay her eggs' 
in another bird's nest. This word pleiger is also 
to drink after one is drunk unto, whereas the first 
true sense of the word was, that if the party drunk 
unto was not disposed to drink himself, he 
would put another for a pledge to do it for him, 
else the party who began would take it ill. Be- 
sides, this word abry, derived from the Latin 
apricus, is taken in French for a close place or 
shelter, whereas in the original it signifieth an 
open free sunshine. They now term in French 
a free boon companion Roger bon temps, whereas 
the original is rouge bon temps (reddish and fair 
weather). They use also in France, when one 
hath a good bargain, to say il a joue a boule veue, 
whereas the original is a bonne veue, A beacon 
or watch-tower is called beffroy, whereas the true 
word is Feffroy, A travelling warrant is called 
passeport, whereas the original is passe par tout. 
When one is grown hoarse, they use to say il a 
veu le hup (he hath seen the wolf), whereas that 
effect of hoarseness is wrought in whom the wolf 
hath seen first, according to Pliny, and the poet, 

Lupi ilium videre priores. 

There is one saying or proverb which is observ- 
able, whereby France doth confess herself to be 
still indebted to England, which is, when one hath 
paid all his creditors, he useth to say, y'^/ pay'e 
tous mes Anglots, so that in this and other phrases 
Anglois is taken for creancier, or creditor. And 



OF JAMES HOWELL 123 

I presume it had its foundation from this, that 
when the French were bound by treaty in Bre- 
tigny to pay England so much for the ransom 
of King John, then prisoner, the contribution lay 
so heavy upon the people that for many years 
they could not make up the sum. The occasion 
might be seconded in Henry the Eighth's time 
at the surrender of Boulogne, and upon other 
treaties, as also in Queen Elizabeth's reign, be- 
sides the moneys which she had disbursed her- 
self to put the crown on Henry the Fourth's 
head, which makes me think on a passage that 
is recorded in Pasquier, that happened when 
the Duke of Anjou, under pretence of wooing 
the Queen, came over into England, who being 
brought to her presence, she told him he was 
come in a good time to remain a pledge for the 
moneys that France owed her father and other of 
her progenitors ; whereunto the Duke answered 
that he was come not only to be a pledge, but 
her close prisoner. 

There be two other sayings in French which, 
though they be obsolete, yet are they worthy the 
knowledge. The first is, // a perdu ses cheveux 
(He hath lost his hair, meaning his honour). For 
in the first race of kings there was a law called la 
lot de la Cheveleure^ whereby it was lawful for the 
noblesse only to wear long hair, and if any of them 
had committed some foul and ignoble act, they 
used to be condemned to have their long hair to 
be cut off as a mark of ignominy, and it was as 



124 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

much as if he had been fleur-de-lys'dy viz., burnt 
on the back or hand, or branded in the face. 

The other proverb was, // a quite sa ceinture 
(He hath given up his girdle), which intimated as 
much as if he had become bankrupt, or had all his 
estate forfeited, it being the ancient law of France, 
that when any upon some offence had that penalty 
of confiscation inflicted upon him, he used before 
the tribunal of justice to give up his girdle, imply- 
ing thereby that the girdle heid everything that 
belonged to a man's estate, as his budget of money 
and writings, the keys of his house, with his sword, 
dagger and gloves, etc. 

I will add hereunto another proverb which had 
been quite lost, had not our Order of the Garter 
preserved it, which is, Honi soit qui mal y pense. 
This we English, " 111 to him who thinks ill," 
though the true sense be, " Let him be bewrayed 
who thinks any ill," being a metaphor taken from 
a child that hath bewrayed his clouts, and I daresay 
there is not one of a hundred in France who under- 
stands this word nowadays. 

Furthermore, I find in the French language 
that the same fate hath attended some French 
words as usually attend men, among whom some 
rise to preferment, others fall to decay and an 
undervalue. I will instance in a few. The word 
maistre was a word of high esteem in former times 
among the French, and applicable to noblemen 
and others in high office only, but now it is fallen 
from the baron to the boor, from the count to the 



OF JAMES HOWELL 125 

cobbler, or any other mean artisan, as Maitre Jean 
le Sauvetier, Mr John the Cobbler, Maitre Jaquet 
le Cabaretier, Mr Jamie the Tapster. 

Sire was also appropriate only to the King, but 
now adding a name after it, it is applicable to any 
mean man upon the endorsement of a letter or 
otherwise. But this word sovereign hath raised 
itself to that pitch of greatness that it is applied 
now only to the King, whereas in times past the 
president of any court, any baiUfF or seneschal, was 
used to be called sovereign. 

Marshal likewise was at first the name of a smith, 
farrier or one that dressed horses, but it has cHmbed 
by degrees to that height that the chiefest com- 
manders of the gendarmerie and militia of France 
are come to be called marshals, which about one 
hundred years since were but two in all, whereas 
now they are twelve. 

This title Majesty hath no great antiquity in 
France, for it began in Henry IFs time. And 
indeed the style of France at first, as well as of 
other countries, was to tutoyer^ that is, to "thou" 
any person that one spake unto, though never so 
high. But when the commonwealth of Rome 
turned to an empire, and so much power came into 
one man's hand, then, in regard he was able to 
confer honour and offices, the courtiers began 
to magnify him and treat him in the plural num- 
ber by Tou^ and by degrees to deify him by tran- 
scending titles, as we read in Symmachus in his 
Epistles to the Emperor Theodosius and to Val- 



126 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

entinian, where his style to them is Vestra aeterni- 
taSy vestrum numen^ vestra perennitaSy vestra de- 
mentia ; so that you in the plural number, with 
other compliments and titles, seem to have their 
first rise with the western monarchy, which after- 
wards by degrees descended upon particular per- 
sons. 

The French tongue hath divers dialects, viz., 
the Picard, that of Jersey and Guernsey, appanages 
once of Normandy, the Proven9al, the Gascon or 
the speech of Languedoc, which Scaliger would 
etymologise from Langue d*oui, whereas it comes 
truly from Langue de Got, in regard the Goths 
and Saracens, who by their incursions and long 
stay in Aquitaine first corrupted the speech of 
Gallia. The Walloon is another dialect which is 
under the King of Spain. They also of Liege have 
a dialect of the French, which among themselves 
they call Roman to this day. 

Touching the modern French that is spoken 
now in the King's Court, the courts of parliament, 
and in the universities of France, there had been 
lately a great competition which was the best. 
But by the learnedest and most indifferent persons 
it was adjudged that the style of the King's Court 
was the purest and most elegant, because the 
other two did smell, the one of pedantry, the other 
of chicanery. And the late Prince of Conde, with 
the Duke of Orleans that now is, were used to 
have a censor in their houses that if any of their 
family spoke any word that savoured of the palace 



OF JAMES HOWELL 127 

or the schools he should incur the penalty of an 
amercement. 

The late Cardinal Richelieu made it part of 
his glory to advance learning and the French 
language. Among other monuments he erected 
a university where the sciences should be read and 
disputed in French for the ease of his countrymen, 
whereby they might presently fall to the matter, and 
not spend time to study words only. 

Thus have I presumed to send your Lordship 
a rambling discourse of the French language past 
and present, humbly expecting to be corrected 
when you shall please to have perused it. So I 
subscribe myself your Lordship's thrice-obedient 
servant, 

J.H. 

London, i October. 

XX 

To Dr Weames 

1 RETURN you many thanks for the addi- 
tional you pleased to communicate unto me 
in continuance of Sir Philip Sidney's " Arcadia," 
and I admired it the more because it was the com- 
position of so young a spirit, which makes me te*' 
you, without any compliment, that you are father 
to a daughter that Europe hath not many of her 
equals, therefore all those gentle souls that pre- 
tend to virtue should cherish her. I have here- 



128 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

with sent you a few lines that relate to the work, 
according to your desire. 

To Mrs A. W. * 

If a male soul by transmigration can 

Pass to a female, and her spirits man. 

Then, sure, some sparks of Sidney's soul have flown 

Into your breast, which may in time be blown 

To flames, for it is the course of Enthean fire 

To kindle by degrees, and brains inspire : 

As buds to blossoms, blossoms turn to fruit. 

So wits ask time to ripen and recruit ; 

But yours gives time the start, as all may see 

In this smooth piece of early poesie. 

Which like sparks of one flame may well aspire. 

If Phoebus please, to a Sidneyan fire. 

So with my very affectionate respects to your- 
self, and to your choice family, I rest your ready 
and real servant, J. H. 

London, 9 November. 

XXI 

To the incomparable Lady, the Lady M. Cary 

Madam, 

1H AVE discovered so much of divinity in you, 
that he who would find your equal must seek 
one in the other world. I might play the oracle, 
and more truly pronounce you the wisest of 
women, than he did Pythagoras the wisest of 
men; for questionless that he or she are the 
wisest of all human creatures, who are careful of 



OF JAMES HOWELL 129 

preserving the noblest part of them, I mean the 
soul. They who prink and pamper the body, 
and neglect the soul, are like one who, having 
a nightingale in his house, is more fond of the 
wicker cage than of the bird; or rather like one 
who hath a pearl of an invaluable price and es- 
teems the poor box that holds it more than the 
jewel. The rational soul is the breath of God 
Almighty, she is His very image, therefore who 
taints his soul may be said to throw dirt in God's 
face, and make His breath stink. The soul is 
a spark of immortality, she is a divine light, and 
the body is but a socket of clay that holds it. In 
some this light goes out with an ill-favoured stench ; 
but others have a save-all to preserve it from mak- 
ing any snuff at all. Of this number, madam, you 
are one that shines clearest in this horizon, which 
makes me so much your Ladyship's truly devoted 
servant, 

J.H. 
London, 3 November, 

XXII 

T'o the Lord B, of Ro,^ at Knolls 

My Lord, 

THE Christian philosopher tells us "that a 
good conscience is a perpetual feast." And 
the pagan philosopher hath a saying, "that a 
virtuous man is always drunk." Both these 



I30 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

sayings aim at one sense, viz., that an upright, 
discreet man is always full of good notions and 
good motions, his soul is always in tune, and the 
faculties thereof never jarring. He values this 
world as it is, a vale of trouble, and a valley of 
tears, full of encumbrances and revolutions, and 
stands armed against all events : " Si fractus illa- 
batur orbis." 

While you read this you have your own char- 
acter, for I know none more capable both for the 
practical part as well as the theory, to give precepts 
of patience, and prescribe rules of morality and 
prudence to all mankind. Your mind is like a 
stone bridge over a rapid river, which, though the 
waters beneath be perpetually working, roaring, 
and bubbling, yet the bridge never stirs, pons 

manet immotus ; so among those monstrous 

mutations and traverses that have lately happened 
you are still the same. 

Mens immota manet . 



I received your last under the covert of Sir John 
Sackvil, to whom I present my affectionate service, 
with a thousand thanks for that seasonable present 
he pleased to send me, which will find me and my 
friends some employment; so desiring your bene- 
diction, I conclude and subscribe myself, my Lord, 
your trulv devoted servant, 

J. H. 

London, 7 December, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 131 

XXIII 

To Sir W. Mason, Knight 

1 PRESENT you with the second part of "the 
Vocal Forest/* but before you make an en- 
trance into the last walk thereof, be pleased to take 
this short caution along with you, which tends to 
rectify such who I hear are over-rash and critical in 
their censure of what is there contained, not pene- 
trating the main design of the author in that allegor- 
ical discourse, nor into the quality of the times, 
or the prudential cautions and indifferences that 
an historical piece exposed to public view should 
require, which may make them perchance to shoot 
their bolts at random, and with wry looks at those 
trees ; therefore let the discerning surveyor, as he 
crosseth this last walk, take a short advertisement 
beforehand : That whatsoever he meets therein 
glancing on the oak, consists of imperfect sugges- 
tions, foreign criticisms and presumptions, etc. 
Now, every petty Sciolist in the laws of reason 
can tell that presumptions were never taken yet 
for proofs, but for left-handed arguments, ap- 
proaching rather the nature of cavillations than 
consequences. 

Moreover, apologues, parables and metaphors, 
though pressed never so hard, have not the strength 
to demonstrate or positively assert any thesis; for, 
as in theology, the highest of sciences, it is a re- 



132 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ceived principle, " Scriptura parabolica non est 
argumentativa," so this maxim holds good in all 
other compositions and arts. It is granted that in 
the walks of this forest there be some free and 
home expressions drawing somewhat near to the 
nature of satires, for otherwise it had been a vain 
superfluous curiosity to have spent so much oil 
and labour in shrouding realities under disguises 
unless the author had promised himself before- 
hand a greater latitude and scope of liberty to pry 
into some miscarriages and solecisms of state, as 
also to question and perstring some sorts of 
actors, especially the cardenian and classican, who, 
as the whole world can witness, were the first rais- 
ers of those hideous tempests which poured down 
in so many showers of blood upon unfortunate 
Druina, and all her co-afForested territories. 

Now, touching that which is spoken of the 
Oak in the last walk, if any intemperate Basilean 
take exceptions thereat, let him know that, as it 
was said before, most of them are but traducements 
and pretensions; yet it is a human principle (and 
will ever be so to the world's end) that there never 
was yet any prince (except one), nor will there ever 
be any hereafter, but had his frailties, and these 
frailties in kings are like stains in the purest scar- 
let, which are more visible. What are but motes 
in others are as beams in them, because that, being 
mounted so high, they are more exposed to the eye 
of the world. And if the historian points haply at 
some of those motes in the Royal Oak, he makes 



OF JAMES HOWELL 133 

good what he promised in the entrance of the for- 
est, that he would endeavour to make a constant 
grain of evenness and impartiality to pass through 
the whole bulk of that arborical discourse. 

We read that there being a high feud betwixt 
Cicero and Vatinius, who had crooked bow-legs, 
Vatinius, having the advantage of pleading first, 
took occasion to give a touch himself of his natural 
imperfection that way, that he might tollere ansam, 
that he might by way of prevention cut off the 
advantages and intention which Cicero might have 
had to asperse him in that particular; the applica- 
tion hereof is easy and obvious. 

But if the sober-minded reader observe well 
what is spoken elsewhere of the " Oak " through- 
out the body and series of the story, he will easily 
conclude that it was far from the design of the 
author, out of any self or sinister ends, to let any 
sour droppings fall from these trees to hurt the 
Oak ; and give me leave to tell you, that he who 
hath but as much wit as may suffice to preserve 
him from being begged for a fool will judge so. 

Lastly, they who know anything of the laws of 
history, do well know that verity and indifference 
are two of the prime virtues that are requisite in 
a chronicler. The same answer may serve to stop 
their mouths who would say something, if they 
could tell what, against my " Survey of the Sig- 
hory of Venice,'* and dedicated to the Parliament 
of England, as if the author had changed his prin- 
ciples, and were affected to republics ; whereas 



134 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

there is not a syllable therein but what makes for 
monarchy ; therefore I rather pity than repine at 
such poor critics with the shallowness of their 
judgments. 

Thus much I thought good to intimate unto 
you, not that I mistrust your own censure, which 
I know to be candid and clear, but that if there 
be occasion you may vindicate your truly affec- 
tionate servant, J. H. 

London, 4 April. 



XXIV 

To the Right Honourable the Lady E, Savage, 
afterwards Countess Rivers 

Excellent Lady, 

AMONG those multitudes that claim a share 
in the loss of so precious a lord, mine is 
not the least. Oh, how willingly could I have 
measured with my feet and performed a pilgrimage 
over all those large continents wherein I have 
travelled to have reprieved him ! Truly,' madam, 
I shall mourn for him while I have a heart beating 
in my breast ; and though time may mitigate the 
sense of grief, yet his memory shall be to me, like 
his worth and virtues, everlasting. But it is not 
so much to be lamented that he hath left us (it 
being so infinitely to his advantage) as that he 
hath left behind so few like him. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 135 

I confess, madam, this is the weightiest cross 
that possibly could come to exercise your patience, 
but I know your Ladyship to be both pious and 
prudent in the highest degree ; let the one pre- 
serve you from excess of sorrow, which may prove 
irreligious to heaven ; and the other keep you 
from being injurious to yourself, and to that 
goodly brave issue of his, which may serve as so 
many living copies of the original. 

God Almighty comfort your Ladyship, so pray- 
eth, madam, your most humble and sorrowful 
servant, J. H. 

London, 2 February, 



XXV 

To the Right Honourable John^ Lo, Sa. 

My Lord, 
SHOULD be much wanting to myself if I 



I 



did not congratulate your lately descended 
honours, but truly, my Lord, this congratulation 
is like a vapour exhaled from a soil overwhelmed 
with a sudden inundation, such is the state of my 
mind at this time, it being overcast with a thick 
fog of grief for the death of your incomparable 
father. 

I pray from the centre of my heart that you 
may inherit his high worth and virtues as you do 
all things else, and I doubt it not, having discov- 
ered in your nature so many pregnancies and 



136 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

sparkles of innated honour. — So I rest in quality 
of your Lordship's most humble servant, 

J.H. 
London, 10 December, 



XXVI 

To Mr y. Wilson 

1 RECEIVED yours of the tenth current, and 
I have many thanks to give you, that you so 
quaintly acquaint me how variously the pulse of 
the pulpiteers beat in your town. Touching ours 
here (by way of correspondence with you) I will 
tell you of one whom I heard lately, for, drop- 
ping casually into a church in Thames Street, I fell 
upon a winter-preacher who spoke of nothing but 
of the fire and flames of hell, so that if a Scyth- 
ian or Greenlander, who are habituated to such 
extreme cold, had heard and understood him, 
he would have thought he had preached of Para- 
dise. His mouth methought did fume with the 
lake of brimstone, with the infernal torments, and 
the thunderings of the law, not a syllable of the 
Gospel; so I concluded him to be one of those 
who used to preach the Law in the church, and 
the Gospel in their chambers, where they make 
some female hearts melt into pieces. He repeated 
his text once, but God knows how far it was from 
the subject of his preachment. He had also hot 
and fiery incitements to war, and to swim in 



OF JAMES HOWELL 137 

blood for the cause. But after he had run away 
from his text so long, the Spirit led him into a 
wilderness of prayer, and there I left him. 

God amend all, and begin with me, who am, 
your assured friend to serve you, J. H. 

London, 5 July, 

XXVII 

ro Sir E. S. 

IN the various courses of my wandering life, 
I have had occasion to spend some part of my 
time in literal correspondence with divers, but I 
never remember that I pleased myself more in 
paying these civilities to any than to yourself; for 
when I undertake this task I find that my head, 
my hand, and my heart go all so willingly about 
it. The invention of the one, the graphical office 
of the other, and the aflfections of the last are so 
ready to obey me in performing the work (work, 
do 1 call it ?), it is rather a sport, my pen and 
paper are as a chessboard, or as your instruments 
of music are to you when you would re-create 
your harmonious soul. Whence this proceeds I 
know not, unless it be from a charming kind of 
virtue that your letters carry with them to work 
upon my spirits, which are so full of facete and 
familiar friendly strains, and so punctual in an- 
swering every part of mine, that you may give the 
law of epistolising to all mankind. 



138 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Touching your poet laureate, Skelton, I found 
him at last (as I told you before), skulking in 
Duck Lane, pitifully tattered and torn, and as the 
times are, I do not think it worth the labour and 
cost to put him in better clothes, for the genius 
of the age is quite another thing; yet there be 
some lines of his which I think will never be out 
of date for their quaint sense, and with these I will 
close this letter, and salute you as he did his friend 
with these options : 

Salve plus decies quam sunt momenta dierum, 
Quot species generum, quot res, quot nomina rerum, 
Quot pratis flores, quot sunt et in orbe colores, 
Quot pisces, quot aves, quot sunt et in aequore naves, 
Quot volucrum pennae, quot sunt tormenta Gehennae, 
Quot coeli stellae, quot sunt et in orbe puellae, 
Quot Sancti Romae, quot sunt miracula Thorn ae, 
Quot sunt virtutes, tantas tibi mitto salutes. 

These were the wishes in time of yore of Jo. 
Skelton, but now they are of your J. H. 

London, 4 August, 

XXVIII 

To R, Davie s. Esquire 

DID your letters know how truly welcome they 
are to me they would make more haste and 
not loiter so long in the way, for I did not receive 
yours of the 2nd of June till the ist of July, which 
was time enough to have travelled not only a hun- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 139 

dred English, but so many Helvetian miles, that 
are five times bigger, for in some places they con- 
tain forty furlongs, whereas ours have but eight, 
unless it be in Wales, where they are allowed bet- 
ter measure, or in the north parts, where there is 
a wee bit to every mile. But that yours should be 
a whole month in making scarce 100 English miles 
(for the distance between us is no more) is strange 
to me, unless you purposely sent it by John Long 
the carrier. I know, being so near Lemster's Ore, 
that you dwell in a gentle soil which is good for 
cheese as well as for cloth, therefore if you send 
me a good one, I shall return my cousin your 
wife something from hence that may be equivalent. 
If you neglect me, I shall think that Wales is re- 
lapsed into her first barbarousness, for Strabo makes 
it one of his arguments to prove the Britons bar- 
barous, because they had not the art of making 
cheese till the Romans came ; but I believe you 
will preserve them from this imputation again. I 
know you can want no good grass thereabouts, 
which, as they say here, grows so fast in some of 
your fields that if one should put his horse there 
over-night, he should not find him again the next 
morning. — So with my very respectful commends 
to yourself and to the partner of your couch and 
cares, I rest, my dear cousin, yours always to dis- 
pose of, 

J.H. 
London, 5 July, 



I40 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XXIX 

To W, Roberts^ Esquire 

THE Dominical Prayer and the Apostolical 
Creed (whereof there was such a hot dispute 
in our last conversation) are two acts tending to 
the same object of devotion, yet they differ in 
this, that we include all in the first and ourselves 
only in the second. One may beg for another, 
but he must believe for himself; there is no man 
can believe by a deputy. The articles of the Creed 
are as the twelve figures in the Zodiac of faith, 
which make way for the Sun of Righteousness to 
pass through the centre of our hearts, as a gentle- 
man doth wittily compare them : But what offence 
the Lord's Prayer or the Creed have committed 
(together with the Ten Commandments) as to 
be, as it were, banished the church of late years, 
I know not, considering that the whole office of a 
Christian may be said to. be comprehended in them, 
for the last prescribes us what we should do ; the 
second, what we should believe ; the third, how 
and what we should pray for. Of all the heretics 
that ever I heard of, I never read of any who 
bore analogy with these. 

Touching other opinions, they are but old fancies 
newly furbished. There were Adamites in former 
times and rebaptlsers; there were iconoclastae, de- 
stroyers of images, but I never read of stauro- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 141 

clastae, destroyers of crosses. There were also 
Agoniclita, who held it a superstition to bow the 
knee ; besides there were those who stumbled 
at the Resurrection, as too many do now. There 
were JEveans also, who maligned bishops and 
the hierarchy of the Church; but we read those 
iEreans turned Arians, and atheists at last. The 
greatest Greek and Latin fathers inveigh against 
those iEreans more bitterly than against any other. 
Chrysostom saith, " Heretics who have learned 
of the Devil not to give due honour to bishops;'* 
and Epiphanius saith, " It is the voice of a devil 
rather than of a Christian, that there is no differ- 
ence betwixt a bishop and a presbyter," etc. 

Good Lord, what fiery clashings have we had 
lately for a cap and a surplice ! What an ocean 
of human blood was spilt for ceremonies only and 
outward formalities, for the bare position of a table ! 
But as we find the rufflingest winds to be commonly 
in cemeteries and about churches, so the eagerest 
and most sanguinary wars are about religion, and 
there is a great deal of weight in that distich of 
Prudentius — 

Sic mores produnt animum, et mihi credite semper 
Junctus cum falso est dogmate caedis amor. 

Let the Turk spread his Alcoran by the sword, 
but let Christianity expand herself still by a passive 
fortitude wherein she always gloried. 

We live in a strange age, when every one is in 
love with his own fancy, as Narcissus was with his 



142 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

face, and this is true spiritual pride, the usherer in 
of all confusions. The Lord deliver us from it, 
and grant we may possess our souls with patience 
till the great wheel of Providence turn up another 
spoke that may point at peace and unanimity 
among poor mortals. In these hopes I rest, yours 
entirely, 

J. H. 
London, 5 January, 

XXX 

Ti? Howel GwyTty Esq. 

My much endeared Cousin, 

I SEND you herewith according to your desires 
the British or Welsh epitaph (for the Saxons 
gave us that new name, calling us Welshmen or 
strangers in our own country), which epitaph was 
found in the West Indies, upon Prince Madoc, 
near upon six hundred years since : 

Madoc wif mw y die wedd 
Jawn genan Owen Gwyneth, 
Ni funnum dir {y enrid oedd, 
Ni da mowr ondy moroedd. 

Which is Englished thus in Mr Herbert's 
" Travels " : 

Madoc ap Owen was I called. 
Strong, tall and comely, not enthralled 
With home-bred pleasure, but for fame 
Through land and sea I sought the same. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 143 

This British Prince Madoc (as many authors 
make mention) made two voyages thither, and in 
the last left his bones there, upon which this epi- 
taph lay. There be other pregnant remarks that 
the British were there, for there is a promontory 
not far from Mexico called Cape Britain, there is 
a creek called Gwyndwor, which is in Welsh white 
water, with other words, as you shall find in Mr 
Herbert's and others ; they had also the sign of 
the cross in reverence among them. 

And now that I am upon British observations, 
I will tell you something of this name Howell, 
which is your first and my second name. Passing 
lately by the cloisters of the Abbey at Westmin- 
ster, I stepped up to the library that Archbishop 
Williams erected there, and I lighted upon a 
French historian, Bertrane a Argentre, Lord of 
Forges, who was President of the Court of Par- 
liament in Rennes, the chief town of Little Brit- 
tany in France, called Armorica, which is a pure 
Welsh word, and signifies a country bordering 
upon the sea, as that doth, and was first colonised 
by the Britons of this island in the reign of Theo- 
dosius the Emperor, an. 387, whose language 
they yet preserve in their radical words. In that 
historian I found that there were four kings of 
that country of the name Howel, viz. Howel the 
First, Howel the Second, Howel the Great (who 
bore up so stoutly against Aetius, the famous 
Roman general), and Howel the Fourth, that 
were all kings of Armorica, or the Lesser Brittany, 



144 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

which continued a kingdom till the year 874, at 
which time the title was changed to a, duchy, but 
sovereign of itself, till it was reduced to the French 
crown by Francis the First. There are many fam- 
ilies of quality of that name to this day in France, 
and one of them desired to be acquainted with me 
by the mediation of Monsieur Augier, who was 
their agent for England. Touching the castle of good 
King Howel hard by you, and other ancient places 
of that name, you know them better than I, but 
the best title which England hath to Wales is by 
that castle, as a great antiquary told me. So in a 
true bond of friendship, as well as of blood, I rest, 
your most affectionate cousin to serve you, 

J. H. 
London, 8 October, 

XXXI 

To Mr W, Pricey at Oxon 

My precious Nephew, 

THERE could hardly better news be brought 
to me, than to understand that you are so 
great a student, and that having passed through 
the briars of logic, you fall so close to philosophy. 
Yet I do not like your method in one thing, that 
you are so fond of new authors and neglect the old, 
as I hear you do. It is the ingrateful genius of 
this age, that if any Sciolist can find a hole in an 
old author's coat, he will endeavour to make it much 



OF JAMES HOWELL 145 

more wide, thinking to make himself somebody 
thereby. I am none of those, but touching the 
ancients, I hold this to be a good moral rule, Lau- 
dandum quod hene^ ignoscendum quod aliter dixerunt 
(The older an author is, commonly the more 
solid he is, and the greater teller of truth). This 
makes me think on a Spanish captain, who being 
invited to a fish dinner, and coming late, he sat at 
the lower end of the table where the small fish lay, 
the great ones being at the upper end ; thereupon 
he took one of the little fish and held it to his 
ear. His comrades asked him what he meant by 
that. He answered in a sad tone, " Some thirty 
years since my father, passing from Spain to Bar- 
bary, was cast away in a storm, and I am asking 
this little fish whether he could tell any tidings of 
his body ; he answers me that he is too young to 
tell me anything, but those old fish at your end 
of the table may say something to it;" so by that 
trick of drollery he got his share of them. The 
application is easy, therefore I advise you not 
to neglect old authors, for though we be come 
as it were to the meridian of truth, yet there be 
many neoterical commentators and self-conceited 
writers that eclipse her in many things, and go 
from obscurum to obscurius. 

Give me leave to tell you, cousin, that your 
kindred and friends with all the world besides, 
expect much from you in regard of the pregnancy 
of your spirit, and those advantages you have of 
others, being now at the source of all knowledge. 



146 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

I was told of a countryman who, coming to Oxford, 
and being at the town's end, stood listening to a 
flock of geese and a few dogs that were hard by ; be- 
ing asked the reason, he answered, that he thought 
the geese about Oxford did gaggle Greek, and the 
dogs barked in Latin. If some in the world think 
so much of those irrational poor creatures that take 
in university air, what will your friends in the coun- 
try expect from you who have the instruments of 
reason in such a perfection, and so well strung with 
a tenacious memory, a quick understanding, and 
rich invention? — all which I have discovered in 
you, and doubt not but you will employ them to 
the comfort of your friends, your own credit, and 
the particular contentment of your truly affec- 
tionate uncle, J. H. 
London, 3 February. 



XXXII 

To Sir K, D., in Paris 

I HAD been guilty of such an offence whereof 
I should never have absolved myself, if I had 
omitted so handsome an opportunity to quicken 
my old devotions to you. Among those multi- 
tudes here who resent your hard condition, and 
the protractions of your business, there is none 
who is more sensible that so gallant and sublime 
a soul (so much renowned throughout the world) 
should meet with such harsh traverses of fortune. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 147 

For myself, I am like an almanac out of date, I am 
grown an unprofitable thing, and good for nothing 
as the times run, yet in your business I shall play 
the whetstone, which, though it be a dull thing of 
itself, and cannot cut, yet it can make other bodies 
to cut ; so shall I quicken those who have the 
managing of your business, and power to do you 
good, whensoever I meet them. — So I rest your 
thirty years' servant, J. H. 

London, 2 September, 



XXXIII 

To Mr R, Lee, in Antwerp 

AN acre of performance is worth the whole 
Land of Promise ; besides, as the Italian 
hath it, deeds are men and words women. You 
pleased to promise me, when you shook hands 
with England, to barter letters with me. But 
whereas I writ to you a good while since by Mr 
Simons, I have not received a syllable from you 
ever since. 

The times here frown more and more upon the 
Cavaliers, yet their minds are buoyed up still with 
strong hopes ; some of them being lately in com- 
pany of such whom the times favour, and report- 
ing some comfortable news on the Royalists' side, 
one of the other answered, " Thus you Cavaliers 
still fool yourselves, and build always castles in the 
air;" thereupon a sudden reply was made, "Where 



148 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

will you have us to build them else, for you have 
taken all our lands from us ? " I know what you 
will say when you read this : A pox on those true 
jests. 

This tale puts me in mind of another. There 
was a gentleman lately who was offered by the 
Parliament a parcel of Church or Crown lands 
equivalent to his arrears, and asking counsel of a 
friend of his which he should take, he answered, 
" Crown lands by all means ; for if you take them 
you run a hazard only to be hanged, but if you 
take Church land you are sure to be damned." 
Whereunto the other made him a shrewd reply : 
" Sir, I will tell you a tale ; There was an old 
usurer not far from London who had trained up 
a dog of his to bring his meat after him in a hand- 
basket, so that in time the shag-dog was so well 
bred that his master used to send him by himself 
to Smithfield shambles with a basket in his mouth, 
and a note in the bottom thereof to his butcher, 
who accordingly would put in what joint of meat 
he wrote for, and the dog would carry it hand- 
somely home. It happened one day that as the 
dog was carrying a good shoulder of mutton home 
to his master, he was set upon by a company of 
other huge dogs, who snatched away the basket 
and fell to the mutton. The other dog measuring 
his own single strength, and finding he was too 
weak to redeem his master's mutton, said within 
himself (as we read the like of Chrysippus's dog), 
' Nay, since there is no remedy, you shall be hanged 



OF JAMES HOWELL 149 

before you have all. I will have also my share/ 
and so fell a-eating amongst them. I need not/' 
said he, "make the application unto you, it is too 
obvious. Therefore I intend to have my share 
also of the Church lands." 

In that large list of friends you have left behind 
you here, I am one who is very sensible that you 
have thus banished yourself. It is the high will 
of Heaven that matters should be thus, there- 
fore, " Quod divinitus accidit humiliter, quod ab 
hominibus viriliter ferendum " (We must manfully 
bear what comes from men, and humbly what 
comes from above). The pagan philosopher tells 
us, " Quod divinitus contingit homo a se nulla 
arte dispellet " (There- is no fence against that 
which comes from heaven, whose decrees are ir- 
reversible). 

Your friends in Fleet Street are all well, both 
long coats and short coats, and so is your unalter- 
able friend to love and serve you, J. H. 

London, 9 November, 

XXXIV 

To Sir y. Tho., Knight 

THERE is no request of yours but is equi- 
valent to a command with me; and whereas 
you crave my thoughts touching a late history 
published by one Mr Wilson, which relates the life 
of King James, though I know for many years 



I50 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

your own judgment to be strong and clear enough 
of itself, yet to comply with your desires, and to 
oblige you that way another time to riie, I will 
deliver you my opinion. 

I cannot deny but the thing is a painful piece, 
and proceeds after a handsome method in drawing 
on the series and thread of the story, but it is easily 
discernible that a partial Presbyterian vein goes 
constantly throughout the whole work. And you 
know it is the genius of that people to pry more 
than they should into the courts and comport- 
ments of princes, and take any occasion to traduce 
and bespatter them. So doth this writer, who 
endeavours all along (among other things) to make 
the world believe that King James and his son 
after him were inclined to Popery and to bring it 
into England. Whereas I dare avouch that neither 
of them entertained the least thought that way ; 
they had as much design to bring in Prester-John 
as the Pope, or Mahommed as soon as the mass. 
This conceit made the writer to be subject to many- 
mistakes and misrepresentations, which so short 
a circuit as a letter cannot comprehend. 

Yet I will instance in one gross mistake he 
hath in relating a passage which concerns Sir Elias 
Hicks, a worthy knight, and a fellow-servant of 
yours and mine. And he doth not only misrepre- 
sent the business, but he foully asperseth him with 
the terms of unworthiness and infamy. The truth 
of that passage is as foUoweth, and I had it from 
very good hands. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 151 

In the year 1621, the French King, making 
a general war against them of the religion, beleag- 
uered Montauban in person, while the Duke of 
Espernon blocked up Rochelle. The King hav- 
ing lain a good while before the town, a cunning 
report was raised that Rochelle was surrendered; 
this report being blown into Montauban, must 
needs dishearten them of Rochelle, being the 
prime and tenablest propugnacle they had. Mr 
Hicks happened to be then in Rochelle, being 
commended by Sir George Goring to the Mar- 
quis de la Force, who was one of them that com- 
manded in chief, and treated Mr Hicks with much 
civility, so far that he took him to be one of his 
domestic attendants. The Rochellers had sent 
two or three special envoys to Montauban to 
acquaint them with their good condition, but it 
seems they all miscarried, and the Marquis being 
troubled in his thoughts, one day Mr Hicks told 
him that by God*s favour he would undertake and 
perform the service to Montauban. Hereupon 
he was put accordingly in equipage. So, after ten 
days* journey, he came to a place called Moysac, 
where my Lord of Doncaster, afterwards Earl of 
Carlisle, was in quality of ambassador from Eng- 
land to observe the French King's proceedings, and 
to mediate a peace betwixt him and the Protest- 
ants. At his first arrival thither it was his good 
hap to meet casually with Mr Peregrine Fairfax, 
one of the Lord Ambassador's retinue, who had 
been a former comrade of his. Among other 



152 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

civilities he brought Mr Hicks to wait upon the 
ambassador, to whom he had credential letters 
from the Assembly of Rochelle, acquainting his 
Lordship with the good state they were in. Mr 
Hicks told him besides that he was engaged to go 
to Montauban as an envoy from Rochelle to give 
them true information how matters stood. The 
ambassador replied that it was too great a trust to 
put upon so young shoulders. So Mr Hicks, 
being upon going to the French army which lay 
before Montauban, Mr Fairfax would needs ac- 
company him thither to see the trenches and works. 
Being come thither they met with one Mr Thomas 
Webb that belonged to the Marshal St Gerand, 
who lodged them both in his own hut that night, 
and having showed them the batteries and trenches 
the day after, Mr Hicks took notice of one place 
which lay most open for his design, resolving 
within himself to pass that way to the town. He 
had told Fairfax of his purpose before, who dis- 
covering it to Webb, Webb asked him whether he 
came thither to be hanged, for divers were used so 
a little before. The next day Hicks, taking his 
leave of Webb, desired Fairfax to stay behind, 
which he refusing, did ride along with him to the 
place which Hicks had pointed out the day before 
for his design, and there Fairfax left him. So 
having got betwixt the corps de guard and the 
town, he put spurs to his horse, and waving his 
pistol above his head, got in, being pursued al- 
most to the walls of the town by the King*s party. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 153 

Being entered, old Marshal de la Force, who was 
then in Montauban, having heard his relations of 
Rochelle, fell on his neck and wept, saying that 
he would give 1000 crowns he were as safely got 
back to Rochelle as he came thither. And having 
stayed there three weeks he, in a sally that the town 
made one evening, got clear through the leaguer 
before Montauban, as he had formerly done before 
that of the Duke of Espernon, and so recovered 
Rochelle again. But to return to Mr Fairfax, 
after he had parted with Mr Hicks, he was taken 
prisoner, and threatened the rack, but whether 
out of the apprehension thereof, or otherwise, he 
died a little after of a fever at Moysac, though it 
is true that the gazettes in Paris did publish that 
he died of the torture, with the French mercury 
since. 

Mr Hicks, being returned to London, was ques- 
tioned by Sir* Ferdinand Fairfax for his brother's 
death. Thereupon Mr Webb, being also come 
back to London, who was upon the very place 
where these things happened in France, Mr Hicks 
brought him along with him to Sir Ferdinand's 
lodgings, who did positively affirm that Mr Hicks 
had communicated his design to Mr Peregrine 
Fairfax (and that he revealed it first to him), so 
he did fairly vindicate Mr Hicks, wherewith Sir 
Ferdinand remained fully satisfied and all his 
kindred. 

W^hosoever will observe the carriage and circum- 
stance of this action must needs confess that Mr 



154 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Hicks (now Sir Ellas Hicks) did comport himself 
like a worthy gentleman from the beginning to 
the end thereof The design was generous, the 
conduct of it discreet, and the conclusion very- 
prosperous in regard it preserved . both Montau- 
ban and Rochelle for that time from the fury of 
the enemy, for the King raised his siege a little 
after from before the one and Espernon from be- 
fore the other. Therefore It cannot be denied that 
the said writer (who so largely entitles his book 
" The History of Great Britain," though It be but 
the particular reign of King James only) was very 
much to blame for branding so well a deserving 
gentleman with infamy and unworthiness, which 
are the words he pleaseth to bestow upon him. 
And I think he would willingly recant and retract 
his rash censure were he now living, but death 
pressed him away before the press had done with 
his book, whereof he may be said to have died in 
childbed. 

So presenting herewith unto you my hearty 
respects and love, endeared and strengthened by 
so long a tract of time, I rest your faithful true 
servant, 

J. H. 

London, 9 November, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 155 

XXXV 

To Mr R. Lewis, in Amsterdam 

Cousin, 

1 FOUND yours of the ist of February in the 
posthouse as I casually had other business 
there, else it had miscarried. I pray be more 
careful of your directions hereafter. I much thank 
you for the avisos you sent me how matters pass 
thereabouts. Methinks that Amsterdam begins to 
smell rank of a Hanse town, as if she would be 
independent, and paramount over the rest of the 
confederate provinces ; she hath some reason in 
one respect, because Holland contributes three 
parts of five, and Amsterdam herself near upon 
the one moiety of those three parts, to maintain 
the land and naval forces of the States General. 
That town likewise, as I hear, begins to compare 
with Venice, but let her stay there awhile, yet she 
may in some kind do it, for their situation and 
beginning have been alike, being both indented 
with waters, and both fisher towns at first. 

But I wonder at one news you write me, that 
Amsterdam should fall on repairing and beautify- 
ing of churches, whereas the news here is clean 
contrary, for while you adorn your churches there, 
we destroy them here. Among other, poor Paul's 
looks like a great skeleton, so pitifully handled 
that you may tell her ribs through her skin ; her 



156 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

body looks like the hulk of a huge Portugal ca- 
rake, that having crossed the Line twelve times, 
and made three voyages into the East Indies, 
lies rotting upon the strand. Truly I think not 
Turk or Tartar, nor any creature except the Devil 
himself, would have used Paul's in that manner ; 
you know that once a stable was made a temple, 
but now a temple is become a stable among 
us. Prob superi I quantum mortalia pectora Caecae 
Noctis hahent 

There are strange heteroclites in religion nowa- 
days, among whom some of them may be said to 
endeavour the exalting of the kingdom of Christ, 
in lifting it upon Beelzebub's back, by bringing in 
so much profaneness to avoid superstition. God 
deliver us from atheism, for we are within one 
step of it ; and touching Judaism, some corners 
of our city smell as rank of it as yours doth 
there. 

I pray be punctual in your returns hereafter, for 
as you say well and wittily, letters may be said to 
be the chiefest organs (though they have but paper- 
pipes) through which friendship doth use to breathe 
and operate. For my part I shall not be wanting 
to set those organs a-working for the often con- 
veyance of my best affections unto you. Sir T. 
Williams, with his choice Lady, blow over through 
the same pipe their kind respects unto you, and 
so do divers of your friends besides; but especially, 
my dear cousin, yours, J. H. 

London, 3 January, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 157 

XXXVI 

To y. Anderson, Esq, 

YOU have been often at me (though I know 
you to be a Protestant so in grain that all 
the waters of the Tiber are not able to make you 
change colour) that I should impart unto you in 
writing what I observed commendable and dis- 
commendable in the Roman Church, because I 
had eaten my bread often in those countries where 
that religion is professed and practised in the 
greatest height. Touching the second part of your 
request, I need not say anything to it, for there 
be authors enough of our Church to inform you 
about the positions and tenets wherein we differ, 
and for which we blame them. Concerning the 
first part, I will give you a short intimation of 
what I noted to be praiseworthy and imitable in 
point of practice. 

The government of the Roman Church is ad- 
mirable, being moulded with as much policy as the 
wit of man can reach unto, and there must be 
civil policy as well as ecclesiastic used to keep such 
a world of people of several nations and humours 
in one religion, though at first, when the Church 
extended but to one chamber, then to one house, 
after to one parish, then to one province, such 
policy was not so requisite. For the Church of 
Christ may be compared to His Person in point 



158 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

of degrees of growing, and as that coat which 
served Him in His childhood could not fit Him in 
His youth, nor that of His youth when He was 
come to His manhood, no more would the same 
government (which compared to the fundamentals 
of faith, that are still the same, are but as outward 
garments) fit all ages of the Church, in regard of 
those millions of accidents that use to attend time, 
and the mutable humours of men, insomuch that 
it was a wholesome caution of an ancient father, 
Distinguas inter tempora, et concordahis cum Scrip- 
tura. This government is like a great fabric reared 
up with such exact rules of art and architecture that 
the foundation, the roof, sides and angles, with all 
the other parts, have such a dependence of mutual 
support by a rare contignation, concinnity, and 
indentings one in the other, that if you take out 
but one stone it hazards the downfall of the whole 
edifice. This makes me think that the Church of 
Rome would be content to part with, and rectify 
some things, if it might not endanger the ruin of 
the whole, which puts the world in despair of an 
oecumenical council again. 

The uniformity of this fabric is also to be 
admired, which is such as if it were but one entire 
continued homogeneous piece; for put case a Span- 
iard should go to Poland and a Pole should travel 
to the farthest part of Spain, whereas all other ob- 
jects may seem ne'er so strange to them in point 
of lodging, language, and diet, though the com- 
plexion and faces, the behaviour, garb, and gar- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 159 

ments of men, women, and children be differing, 
together with the very air and clime of the place, 
though all things seem strange unto them, and so 
somewhat uncouth and comfortless, yet when they 
go to God's house in either country, they may say 
they are there at home, for nothing differs there 
either in language, worship, service, or ceremony, 
which must needs be an unspeakable comfort to 
either of them. 

Thirdly, it must needs be a commendable thing 
that they keep their churches so cleanly and amiable, 
for the dwellings of the Lord of Hosts should be 
so ; to which end your greatest ladies will rise before 
day sometimes in their night clothes to fall a-sweep- 
ing some part of the church and decking it with 
flowers, as I heard Count Gondomar*s wife used 
to do here at Ely House Chapel ; besides they 
keep them in constant repair, so that if but a quarry 
of glass chanced to be broken or the least stone be 
out of square it is presently mended. Moreover, 
their churches stand wide open early and late, in- 
viting as it were all comers, so that a poor troubled 
soul may have access thither at all hours to breathe 
out the pantings of his heart, and the ejaculations 
of his soul either in prayer or praise ; nor is there 
any exception of persons in their churches, for the 
cobbler will kneel with the count, and the laundress 
cheek-by-jowl with her lady, there being no pews 
there to cause pride and envy, contentions and 
quarrels, which are so rife in our churches. 

The comely prostrations of the body, with genu- 



i6o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

flexion, and other acts of humility in time of divine 
service are very exemplary. Add hereunto that the 
reverence they show to the holy function of the 
Church is wonderful ; princes and queens will not 
disdain to kiss a capuchin's sleeve, or the surplice 
of a priest. Besides, I have seen the greatest and 
beatifulest young ladies go to hospitals, where they 
not only dress but lick the sores of the sick. 

Furthermore, the conformity of seculars, and 
resignment of their judgments to the governors of 
the Church are remarkable. There are not such 
sceptics and cavillers there as in other places. They 
humbly believe that Lazarus was three days in the 
grave, without questioning where his soul was all 
the while, nor will they expostulate how a man 
who was born bHnd from his nativity should pre- 
sently know the shapes of trees, whereunto he 
thought the first men he ever saw were like, after 
he received sight ; add hereunto that they esteem 
for Church preferments most commonly a man of 
a pious good disposition, of a meek spirit and godly 
life, more than a learned man, that is either a great 
linguist, antiquary, or philosopher, and the first is 
advanced sooner than the latter. 

Lastly, they think nothing too good or too much 
for God's house or for His ministers, no place too 
sweet, no buildings too stately for them, being of 
the best profession. The most curious artists will 
employ the best of their skill to compose hymns 
and anthems for God's house, etc. 

But, methinks I hear you say that you acknow- 



OF JAMES HOWELL i6i 

ledge all this to be commendable, were it not that 
it is accompanied with an odd opinion that they 
think to merit thereby, accounting them works of 
supererogation. 

Truly, sir, I have discoursed with the greatest 
magnifiers of meritorious works, and the chiefest 
of them made me this comparison, that the blood 
of Christ is like a great vessel of wine, and all the 
merits of men, whether active or passive, were it 
possible to gather them all in one lump, are but 
as a drop of water thrown into that great vessel, 
and so must needs be made wine, not that the water 
hath any inherent virtue of itself to make itself so, 
but as it receives it from the wine. 

It is reported of Cosmo de' Medici, that having 
built a goodly church with a monastery thereunto 
annexed, and two hospitals with other monuments 
of piety, and endowed them with large revenues, 
as one did much magnify him for these extraordi- 
nary works, for which doubtless he merited a high 
reward in heaven, he answered : " It is true I em- 
ployed much treasure that way, yet when I look 
over my ledger book of accounts, I do not find 
that God Almighty is indebted to me one penny, 
but I am still in the arrear to Him." 

Add hereunto the sundry ways of mortification 
they have by frequent long fastings and macerations 
of the flesh, by their retiredness, their abandoning 
the world and sequestration from all mundane 
affairs, their notable humility in the distribution 
of their alms, which they do not use to hurl away 



i62 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

in a kind of scorn as others do, but by putting it 
gently into the beggar's hand. 

Some shallow-pated Puritan in reading this will 
shoot his bolt and presently cry me up to have a 
pope in my belly, but you know me otherwise, and 
there's none knows my intrinsicals better than you. 
We are come to such times, that if any would 
maintain those decencies and humble postures, 
those solemnities and rites which should be prac- 
tised in the holy house of God (and holiness be- 
comes His house for ever), nay, if one passing 
through a church should put off his hat, there is 
a giddy and malignant race of people (for indeed 
they are the true malignants), who will give out 
that he is running post to Rome. Notwithstanding 
that the religion established by the laws of England 
did ever allow of them ever since the Reformation 
began, yet you know how few have run thither. 
Nay, the Lutherans, who use far more ceremonies 
symbolising with those of Rome than the English 
Protestants ever did, keep still their distance, and 
are as far from her now as they were at first. 

England had lately (though to me it seems a 
great while since) the face and form, the govern- 
ment and gravity, the constitutions and comeliness 
of a Church ; for she had something to keep her- 
self handsome ; she had wherewith to be hospit- 
able, and do deeds of charity, to build alms-houses, 
free schools, and colleges, which had been very 
few in this island had there been no Church bene- 
factors. She had brave degrees of promotion to 



OF JAMES HOWELL 163 

incite industry, and certainly the conceit of hon- 
our is a great encouragement to virtue. Now, if 
all professions have steps of rising, why should 
divinity, the best of all professions, be without them ? 
The apprentice doth not think it much to wipe 
his master's shoes and sweep the gutters, because 
he hopes one day to be an alderman. The com- 
mon soldier carrieth hopes in his knapsack to be 
one day a captain or colonel. The student in the 
Inns of Courts turns over " Ployden " with more 
alacrity, and tugs with that crabbed study of the 
law, because he hopes one day to be a judge. So 
the scholar thought his labour sweet, because he 
was buoyed up with hopes that he might be one 
day a bishop, dean, or canon. This comely sub- 
ordination of degrees we once had, and we had 
a visible conspicuous Church, to whom all other 
Reformists gave the upper hand ; but now she 
may be said to have crept into corners, and fallen 
to such a contempt that she dares scarce show her 
face. Add hereunto in what various kinds of con- 
fusion she is involved, so that it may be not im- 
properly said, while she thought to run away so 
eagerly from Babylon, she is fallen into a babel of 
all opinions: insomuch that they who come lately 
from Italy say how Rome gives out that when 
religion is lost in England, she will be glad to 
come to Rome again to find one out, and that 
she danceth all this while in a circle. 

Thus have I endeavoured to satisfy your im- 
portunity as far as a sheet of paper could reach, to 



i64 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

give you a touch that may be not only allowable 
but laudable, and consequently imitablein the 
Roman Church, for — 

Fas est et ab hoste doceri, • 

but I desire you would expound all with a sane 
sense, wherewith I know you abound, otherwise 
I would not be so free with you upon this ticklish 
subject ; yet I have cause to question your judg- 
ment in one thing, because you magnify so much 
my talent in your last. Alas, sir, a small hand- 
kerchief is enough to hold mine, whereas a large 
tablecloth can hardly contain that rich talent which 
I find God and nature hath intrusted you withal. 
In which opinion I rest always your ready and 
real servant, 

J. H. 
London, 3 July. 

XXXVII 
Ti? Doctor Harvey y at St Laurence Poultney 

1 REM EMBER well you pleased not only to 
pass a favourable censure, but give a high 
character of the first part of Dodona^s " Grove," 
which makes this second to come and wait on you, 
which, I dare say, for variety of fancy is nothing 
inferior to the first. It continueth an historical ac- 
count of the occurrences of these times in an alle- 
gorical way under the shadow of trees, and I believe 



OF JAMES HOWELL 165 

it omits not any material passage which happened 
as far as it goes. If you please to spend some 
of the parings of your time, and fetch a walk in 
this grove, you may haply find therein some re- 
creation. And if it be true what the ancients 
write of some trees, that they are fatidical, these 
come to foretell, at leastwise to wish you, as the 
season invites me, a good new year, according 
to the Italian compliment, huon princtpioy miglior 
mezzOy ed ottimo fine. With these wishes of hap- 
piness in all the three degrees of comparison, I rest 
your devoted servant. 



J. H. 



London, 1 January, 



XXXVIII 

Ti? i?. BowyeVy Esq, 

1 RECEIVED yours of the tenth current, where 
I made a new discovery, finding therein one 
argument of your friendship which you never 
urged before, for you gave me a touch of my 
failings in point of literal correspondence with you. 
To this give me leave to answer that he who hath 
glass windows of his own should take heed how he 
throws stones at those of his neighbours. We have 
both of us our failings that way : witness else 
yours of the last of May to mine of the first of 
March before ; but it is never over-late to mend, 
therefore I begin, and do penance in this white 



i66 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

sheet for what is past. I hope you will do the 
like, and so we 'may absolve one another without 
a ghostly father. 

The French and Spaniard are still at it like two 
cocks of the game, both of them pitifully bloodied, 
and it is thought they will never leave till they 
peck out one another's eyes. They are daily 
seeking new alliances to fortify themselves, and 
the quarrel is still so hot that they would make 
a league with Lucifer to destroy one another. 

For home news, the freshest is that whereas in 
former times there were complaints that Church- 
men were justices of peace, now the clean contrary 
way^ justices of peace are become Churchmen, for 
by a new Act of that thing in Westminster called 
now a Parliament, the power of giving in marriage 
is passed over to them, which is an ecclesiastic rite 
everywhere else throughout the world. 

A Cavalier coming lately to a bookseller's shop, 
desired to buy this Matrimonial Act, with the rest 
of that holy Parliament, but he would have them 
all bound in calf's leather bought out of Mr Bare- 
bone's shop in Fleet Street. 

The soldiers have a great spleen to the lawyers, 
insomuch that they threaten to hang up their 
gowns among the Scots colours in Westminster 
Hall; but their chiefest aim is at the regulation 
of the Chancery, for they would have the same 
tribunal to have the power of justice and equity, 
as the same apothecary's shop can afford us purges 
and cordials. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 167 

So with my kind and cordial respects unto you, 
I rest your entire and truly affectionate servant, 

J. H. 
London, 9 November, 



XXXIX 

To Mr y.B.,at his House in St Nicholas Lane 

WHEN I exchanged speeches with you last, 
I found (yet more by your discourse than 
countenance) that your spirits were towards a kind 
of ebb by reason of the interruption and stop 
which these confused times have put to all mer- 
cantile negotiations both at home and abroad. 
Truly, sir, when after a serious recollection I had 
ruminated upon what had dropped from you then, 
I extremely wondered, which I should not have 
done at another, in regard, since the first time I 
had the advantage of your friendship, I discovered 
that you were naturally of generous and freeborn 
thoughts. I have found, also, that by a rarer in- 
dustry you have stored up a rich stock of philo- 
sophy and other parts of prudence, which induced 
me to think that no worldly revolution or any 
cross winds, though never so violent, no, not a 
hurricane, could trouble the calm of your mind. 
Therefore, to deal freely with you, you are not 
the same man I took you for. 

I confess it is a passive age, and the stoutness 
of the prudentest and most philosophical men were 



i68 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

never put to such a trial. I thank God the school 
of affliction hath brought me to such a habit of 
patience; it hath caused in me such symptoms 
of mortification that I can value this world as it is. 
It is but a vale of troubles, and we who are in it 
are like so many ants trudging up and down about 
a mole-hill. Nay, at best we are but as so many 
pilgrims or passengers travelling on still towards 
another country. It is true that some do find the 
way thither more smooth and fair; they find it 
flowery, and tread upon camomile all along. Such 
may be said to have their paradise here, or to sail 
still in fortune's sleeve, and to have the wind in 
the poop all the while, not knowing what a storm 
means. Yet both the divine and philosopher do 
rank these among the most unfortunate of men. 
Others there are who in their journey to their last 
home do meet with rocks and crags, with ill- 
favoured sloughs and bogs, and divers deep and 
dirty passages. For my part I have already passed 
through many such, and must expect to meet 
with more. Therefore you also, by your various 
adventures and negotiations in the world, must not 
think to escape them. You must make account 
to meet with encumbrances and disasters, with 
mischances and crosses. Now, it was a brave, 
generous saying of a great Armenian merchant, 
who, having understood how a vessel of his was 
cast away, wherein there was laden a rich cargazon 
upon his sole account, he struck his hand on his 
breast and said, " My heart, I thank God, is still 



OF JAMES HOWELL 169 

afloat; my spirit shall not sink with the ship, nor 
go an inch lower." 

But why do I write to you of patience and 
courage? In doing this, I do no otherwise than 
Phormio did when he discoursed of war before 
Hannibal. I know you have prudence enough to 
cheer up and instruct yourself. Only let me tell 
you that you superabound with fancy, you have 
more of mind than of body, and that sometimes 
you overcharge the imagination by musing too 
much upon the odd traverses of the world. There- 
fore I pray rouse up your spirits, and reserve 
yourself for better times, that I may long enjoy 
the sweetness of your friendship, for the elements 
are the more pleasing unto me, because you live 
with me amongst them. So God send you such 
tranquillity of thoughts as I wish. Your true 
friend, J. H. 

5 April 

XL 

To Major J, Walker ^ in Coventry 

1 HEARTILY congratulate your return to 
England, and that you so safely crossed the 
Scythian Vale, for so old Gildas calls the Irish 
Seas, in regard they are so boisterous and rough. 
I understand you have been in sundry hot and 
hazardous encounters, because of those many scars 
and cuts you wear about you, and as Tom Daw- 



I'/o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

son told me, it was no less than a miracle that 
none of them were mortal, being eleven in all. It 
makes me think on a witty compliment that Cap- 
tain Miller put upon the Persian ambassador 
when he was here, who showing him many wounds 
that he had received in the wars against the Turk, 
the captain said, " That his Lordship's skin after 
his death would yield little money, because it had 
so many holes in it." 

1 find the same fate hangs over the Irish as be- 
fell the old Britons here, for as they were hemmed 
In among the Welsh mountains, so the Irish are 
like now to be all kennelled in Connaught. We 
see daily strange revolutions, and God knows 
what the issue will be at last. Howsoever, let 
us live and love one another, in which resolution 
I rest entirely yours, J. H. 

2 May, 

XLI 

To Mr T. C, at his House upon. Tower Hill 

TO inaugurate a good and jovial New Year 
unto you, I send you a morning's draught, 
viz., a bottle of metheglln. Neither Sir John 
Barleycorn nor Bacchus had anything to do with 
it, but It is the pure juice of the bee, the laborious 
bee, and the king of insects. The Druids and 
old British bards were wont to take a carouse 
hereof before they entered into their speculations. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 171 

and if you do so when your fancy labours with 
anything it will do you no hurt, and I know your 
fancy to be very good. 

But this drink always carries a kind of state 
with it, for it must be attended with a brown toast, 
nor will it admit but of one good draught, and 
that in the morning; if more it will keep a hum- 
ming in the head, and so speak too much of the 
house it comes from, I mean the hive, as I gave 
a caution elsewhere; and because the bottle might 
make more haste, I have made it go upon these 
(poetic) feet: 

y. H. T, C. Salutem^ et annum platonicum. 

Non Vitis, sed apis succum tibi mitto bibendum. 
Quern legimus bardos olim potasse Britannos. 
Qualibet in bacca Vitis Megera latescit, 
Qualibet in gutta Mellis Aglaia nitet. 

The juice of bees not Bacchus here behold. 
Which British bards were wont to quaff of old. 
The berries of the grape with furies swell. 
But in the honeycomb the Graces dwell. 

This alludes to a saying which the Turks 
have that there lurks a devil in every berry of the 
vine. So I wish you as cordially as to myself 
an auspicious and joyful New Year, because you 
know I am your truly affectionate servitor, 

J. H. 



172 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XLII 

To Sir E. S. 

AT my return to London I found two of yours 
that lay in bank for me, which were as wel- 
come to me as the New Year, and as pleasing as 
if two pendants of orient pearl had been sent to 
a French lady. But your lines, methought, did 
cast a greater lustre than any such mussel beads, 
for they displayed the whiteness of a comely and 
knowing soul, which, reflecting upon my faculties, 
did much enlighten them with the choice notions 
I found therein. 

I thank you for the absolution you send me for 
what is past, and for your other invitation. But I 
have observed a civility they use in Italy and Spain, 
not to visit a sick person too often, for fear of 
putting him to waste his spirits by talk, which they 
say spends much of the inward man ; but when 
you have recovered yourself, as I hope you will 
do with the season, I shall return to kiss your 
hands and your feet also, could I ease you of that 
podagrical pain which afflicts you. 

I send you a thousand thanks for your kind 
acceptance of that small New Year's gift I sent, 
and that you concur with divers others in a good 
opinion of it. — So I rest your own true servant, 

J.H. 
London, i8 February, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 173 



XLIII 

To the truly Honoured the Lady Sybilla Brown^ 
at her House near Sherburn 

WHEN I had the happiness to wait upon 
you at your being in London, there was 
a dispute raised about the ten Sibyls, by one who, 
your Ladyship knows, is no great friend to anti- 
quity, and I was glad to apprehend this oppor- 
tunity to perform the promise you drew from me 
then to vent something upon this subject for your 
Ladyship's satisfaction. 

Madam, in these peevish times, which may be 
called the rust of the iron age, there is a race of 
crossgrained people which are malevolent to all 
antiquity. If they read an old author it is to 
quarrel with him, and find some hole in his coat ; 
they slight the fathers of the primitive times, and 
prefer John Calvin or a Casaubon before them all. 
Among other tenets of the first times they hold 
the ten Sibyls to be fictitious and fabulous, and 
no better than Urganda or the Lady of the Lake, 
or such doting beldams. They stick not to term 
their predictions of Christ to be mere mock- 
oracles, and odd arreptitious frantic extravagances. 
They cry out that they were forged and obtruded 
on the world by some officious Christians to pro- 
cure credit and countenance to their religion among 
the pagans. 



174 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



For my part, madam, I am none of this incred- 
ulous, perverse race of men, but what the current 
and concurrent testimonies of the primitive times 
do hold forth, I give credit thereunto without any 
scruple. 

Now, touching the works of the Sibyls, they 
were in high request among the fathers of the first 
four centuries, insomuch that they used to urge 
their prophecies for the conversion of pagans, who 
therefore called the Christians Sibyllianists ; nor 
did they hold it a word of reproach. They were 
all virgins, and for reward of their chastity, it was 
thought they had the gift of prophecy- — not by 
any endowment of nature or inherent human 
quality, or ordinary ideas in the soul, but by pure 
divine inspirations not depending on second causes 
in sight. They speak not like the ambiguous 
pagan oracles in riddles, but so clearly that they 
sometimes go beyond the Jewish prophets. They 
were called Siobulae, that is, of the counsels of 
God, Sios in the MoYic dialect being Deus, They 
were preferred before all the Chaldean wizards, 
before the Bacides, Branchydae and others, as also 
before Tyresias, Manto, Matis or Cassandra, etc. 

Nor did the Christians only value them at that 
height, but the most learned among the ethnicks 
did so, as Varro, Livy, and Cicero, the first being 
the greatest antiquary, the second the greatest his- 
torian, and the third the greatest orator, that ever 
Rome had, who speak so much of that famous 
acrostic that one of them made of the name of 



OF JAMES HOWELL 175 

our Saviour, which sure could not be the work 
of a Christian, as some would maliciously obtrude, 
it being so long before the Incafnation. 

But for the better discharge of my engagement 
to your Ladyship, I will rank all the ten before 
you, with some of their most signal predictions. 

The Sibyls were ten in number, whereof there 
were five born in Europe ; to wit, Sibyla Delphica, 
Cumaea, Samia, Cumana, and Tyburtina ; the rest 
were born in Asia and Africa. 

The first was a Persian called Samberthe, who 
plainly foretold many hundred years before in 
these words, " The womb of the Virgin shall be 
the salvation of the Gentiles," etc. 

The second was Sibyla Lybica, who among 
other prophecies hath this, " The day shall come 
that men shall see the King of all living things, 
and a Virgin Lady of the world shall hold Him in 
her lap/' 

The third was Delphica, who saith, " A Prophet 
shall be born of a Virgin." 

The fourth was Sibyla Cumaea, born in Cam- 
pania in Italy, who hath these words, that " God 
shall bebornof a Virgin, and converse withsinners." 

The fifth was the famous Erythraea, born at 
Babylon, who composed that famous acrostic which 
St Augustin took so much pains to translate into 
Latin, which begins, " The earth shall sweat signs 
of judgment ; from heaven shall come a King who 
shall reign for ever, viz., in human flesh, to the 
end that by His presence He may judge the world. 



176 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

A river of fire and brimstone shall fall from 
heaven, the sun and stars shall lose their light, 
the firmament shall be dissolved, and the moon 
shall be darkened, a trumpet shall sound from 
heaven in woeful and terrible manner, and the 
opening of the earth shall discover confused and 
dark hell, and before the Judge shall come every 
king," etc. 

The sixth was Sibyla Samia, who saith, " He 
being rich shall be born of a poor Maid, the crea- 
tures of the earth shall adore Him, and praise 
Him for ever." 

The seventh was Cumana, who saith, " That 
He should come from heaven, and reign here in 
poverty ; He should rule in silence, and be born 
of a Virgin." 

The eighth was Sibyla Hellespontica, who fore- 
tells plainly that, " A Woman shall descend of the 
Jews called Mary, and of her shall be born the 
Son of God, and that without carnal copulation," 
etc. 

The ninth was Phrygia, who saith, " The High- 
est shall come from heaven, and shall confirm the 
counsel in heaven, and a Virgin shall be showed in 
the valleys of the deserts," etc. 

The tenth was Tyburtina, born near Tibur, 
who saith, " The invisible Word shall be born of 
a Virgin ; He shall converse with sinners, and 
shall of them be despised," etc. 

Moreover, St Austin reciteth these prophecies 
following of the Sibyls : " Then He shall be taken 



OF JAMES HOWELL 177 

by the wicked hands of infidels, and they shall 
give Him buffets on His face ; they shall spit upon 
Him with their foul and accursed mouths ; He 
shall turn unto them His shoulders, suffering them 
to be whipped. He also shall be crowned with 
thorns; they shall give Him gall to eat, and vine- 
gar to drink ; then the veil of the temple shall 
rend, and at midday it shall be dark night," etc. 

Lactantius relateth these prophecies of theirs : 
" He shall raise the dead, the impotent and lame 
shall go, the deaf shall hear, the blind shall see, 
and the dumb speak," etc. 

In fine, out of the works of the Sibyls may be 
deduced a good part of the miracles and sufferings 
of Christ, therefore for my part I will not cavil 
with antiquity, or traduce the Primitive Church, 
but I think I may believe without danger that 
those Sibyls might be select instruments to an- 
nounce the dispensations of Heaven to mankind. 
Nor do I see how they do the Church of God 
any good service or advantage at all, who ques- 
tion the truth of their writings (as also Trismegis- 
tus* " Pymandra," and Aristaeus, etc.), which have 
been handed over to posterity as incontrovertible 
truths for so many ages. 

Thus, madam, have I done something of that 
task you imposed upon me touching the ten Sib- 
yls, whereunto I may well add your Ladyship for 
the eleventh, for among other things I remember 
you foretold confidently that the Scottish Kirk 
would destroy the English Church, and that if the 



178 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

hierarchy went down, monarchy would not be of 
long continuance. 

Your Ladyship, I remember, foretold also, how 
those unhappy separatists the Puritans would 
bring all things at last into a confusion, who since 
are called Presbyterians, or Jews of the New 
Testament; and they not improperly may be called 
so, for they sympathise much with that nation in 
a revengeful, sanguinary humour, and thirsting 
after blood. I could produce a cloud of examples, 
but let two suffice. 

There lived a few years before the Long Parlia- 
ment, near Clun Castle in Wales, a good old 
widow that had two sons grown to man's estate, 
who having taken the holy Sacrament on a first 
Sunday in the month, at their return home they 
entered into a dispute touching the manner of re- 
ceiving it. The eldest brother, who was an ortho- 
dox Protestant (with the mother), held it was very 
fitting, it being the highest act of devotion, that 
it should be taken in the humblest posture that 
could be — upon the knees ; the other, being a 
Puritan, opposed it, and the dispute grew high, but 
it ended without much heat. The next day, being 
both come home to dinner from their business 
abroad, the eldest brother, as it was his custom, 
took a nap upon a cushion at the end of the table 
that he might be more fresh for labour ; the Pur- 
itan brother, called Enoch Evans, spying his 
opportunity, fetched an axe, which he had pro- 
vided, it seems, on purpose, and stealing softly to 



OF JAMES HOWELL 179 

the table, he chopped off his brother's head. 
The old mother, hearing a noise, came suddenly 
from the next room, and there found the body 
and head of her eldest son both asunder, and 
reeking in hot blood. " Oh, villain," cried she, 
" hast thou murdered thy eldest brother ? " 
"Yes," quoth he, "and you shall after him." 
And so striking her down, he dragged her body 
to the threshold of the door, and there chopped 
off her head also, and put them both in a bag ; 
but, thinking to flee, he was apprehended and 
brought before the next Justice of Peace, who 
chanced to be Sir Robert Howard ; so the mur- 
derer at the Assizes after was condemned, and the 
law could but only hang him, though he had com- 
mitted matricide and fratricide. 
. I will fetch another example of their cruelty 
from Scotland. The late Marquis of Montrose, 
being betrayed by a lord in whose house he lay, 
was brought prisoner of war to Edinburgh. There 
the common hangman met him at the town's end, 
and first pulled off his hat, then he forced him up 
to a cart, and hurried him like a condemned per- 
son, though he had not yet been arraigned, much 
less convicted, through the great street, and 
brought him before the Parliament, where being 
presently condemned, he was posted away to the 
gallows, which was above thirty feet high. There 
his hand was cut off first, then" he was lifted up by 
pulleys to the top, and then hanged in the most 
ignominious manner that could be. Being taken 



i8o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

down, his head was chopped off and nailed to the 
high cross ; his arms, thighs, and legs were sent 
to be set up in several places, and the rest of his 
body was thrown away and deprived of Christian 
burial. Thus was this nobleman used, though one 
of the ancientest peers of Scotland, and esteemed 
the greatest honour of that country both at home 
and abroad. Add hereunto the mortal cruelty 
they used to their young king, with whom they 
would not treat unless he first acknowledged his 
father to be a tyrant, and his mother an idolatress, 
etc. 

So I most humbly kiss your hands, and rest 
always, madam, your Ladyship's most faithfully 
devoted servant, 

J. H. 

London, this 30 of August, 

XLIV 

To Sir L: D.y in Paris 

Noble Knight, 

YOURS of the 22nd current came to safe 
hand, but what you please to attribute 
therein to my letters may be more properly applied 
to yours in point of intrinsic value ; for by this 
correspondence with you, I do as our East India 
merchants used to do — I venture beads and other 
bagatelles, out of the proceed whereof I have pearl 
and other Oriental jewels returned me in yours. 



OF JAMES HOWELL i8i 

Concerning the posture of things here, we are 
still involved in a cloud of confusion, especially 
touching Church matters. A race of odd crack- 
brained schismatics do croak in every corner, but, 
poor things, they rather want a physician to cure 
them of their madness, than a divine to confute 
them of their errors. Such is the height of their 
spiritual pride that they make it nothing to inter- 
pret every tittle of the Apocalypse ; they make a 
shallow rivulet of it that one may pass over and 
scarce wet his ankles, whereas the greatest doctors 
of the Church compared it to a deep ford wherein 
an elephant might swim. They think they are of 
the Cabinet Council of God, and not only know 
His attributes, but His Essence, which made me 
lately break out upon my pillow into these met- 
rical speculations : 

If of the smallest stars in sky 

We know not the dimensity. 

If those bright sparks which them compose 

The highest mortal wits do pose : 

How then, poor shallow man, canst thou 
The Maker of these glories know ? 

If we know not the air we draw. 

Nor what keeps winds and waves in awe. 

If our small skulls cannot contain 

The flux and saltness of the main. 
If scarce a cause we ken below. 
How can we the supernal know ? 

If it be a mysterious thing 

Why steel should to the loadstone cling. 



i82 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

If we know not why jet should draw. 
And with such kisses hug a straw. 
If none can truly yet reveal 
How sympathetic powders heal : 

If we scarce know the earth we tread, ■ 
Or half the simples there are bred, 
With minerals and thousand things. 
Which for man's health and food she brings. 

If Nature's so obscure, then how 

Can we the God of Nature know ? 

What the bat's eye is to the sun. 

Or of a glowworm to the moon. 

The same is human intellect. 

If on our Maker we reflect. 

Whose magnitude is so immense. 
That it transcends both soul and sense. 

Poor purblind man, then sit thee still. 

Let wonderment thy temples fill. 

Keep a due distance, do not pry 

Too near, lest like the silly fly,- 

While she the wanton with the flames doth play. 
First fries her wings, then fools her life away. 

There are many things under serious debate in 
Parliament, whereof the results may be called yet 
but the imperfect productions of a grand committee : 
they may in time come to the maturity of votes 
and so of Acts. 

You write that you have the German Diet which 
goes forth in my name, and you say that you 
never had more matter for your money. I have 
valued it the more ever since, in regard that you 
please to set such a rate upon it, for I know your 



OF JAMES HOWELL 183 

opinion is current and sterling. I shall shortly by 
T. B. send you a new " History of Naples," which 
also did cost me a great deal of oil and labour. 

Sir, if there be anything imaginable wherein I 
may stead or serve you here, you well know what 
interest and power you may claim both in the af- 
fections of my heart and the faculties of my soul. 
I pray be pleased to present the humblest of my 
service to the noble Earl your brother, and pre- 
serve still in your good opinion your truly obliged 
servant, J. H, 



XLV 

To Sir E, aS., Knight 

NOW that the sun and the spring advance 
daily towards us more and more, I hope 
your health will keep pace with them, and that 
the all-searching beams of the first will dissipate 
that fretful humour which hath confined you so 
long to your chamber, and barred you of the use 
of your true supporters. But though your toes 
be slugs, yet your temples are nimble enough, as 
I find by your last of the 1 2th current, which makes 
me think on a speech of Severus the Emperor, 
who having lain sick a long time of the gout at 
York, and one of his nobles telling him that he 
wondered much how he could rule so vast an 
empire being so lame and unwieldy, the Emperor 
answered that he ruled the empire with his brain. 



i84 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

not with his feet. So it may be said of you that 
you rule the same way the whole state of that 
microcosm of yours, for every man is a little world 
of himself. 

Moreover, I find that the same kind of spirit 
doth govern your body as governs the great 
world, I mean the celestial bodies, for as the mo- 
tions whereby they are regulated are musical, if 
we may believe Pythagoras whom the Tripod pro- 
nounced the wisest man, so a true harmonious 
spirit seems to govern you in regard you are so 
naturally inclined to the ravishing art of music. 

Your friends here are well, and wish you were 
so too. For my part I do not only wish it, but 
pray it may be so, for my life is the sweeter in 
yours, and I please myself much in being your 
truly faithful servant, J. H. 

I MarUi. 



XLVI 
To Mr Sam Bon., at his House in the Old Jury 

1 RECEIVED that choice parcel of tobacco 
your servant brought me, for which I send 
you as many returns of gratitude as there were 
grains therein, which were many (and cut all me- 
thinks with a diamond cut), but too few to express 
my acknowledgment. I had also therewith your 
most ingenious letter, which I valued far more. 
The other was but a potential fire only reducible 



OF JAMES HOWELL 185 

to smoke; but your letter did sparkle with actual 
fire, for methought there were pure flames of love 
and gentleness waving in every line. The poets 
do frequently compare affection to fire, therefore 
whensoever I take any of this varina I will imagine 
that I light my pipe always at the flames of your 
love. 

I also highly thank you for the Italian manu- 
scripts you sent me of the late revolutions in 
Naples, which will infinitely advantage me in ex- 
posing to the world that stupendous piece of story. 
I am in the arrear to you for sundry courtesies more, 
which shall make me ever entitle myself your 
truly thankful friend and servant, J. H. 

Hoi born, 3 June, 

XLVII 

To W, Sands^ Esq. 

THE calamities and confusions which the late 
wars did bring upon us were many and 
manifold, yet England may be said to have gained 
one advantage by it, for whereas before she was 
like an animal that knew not his own strength, 
she is now better acquainted with herself, for her 
power and wealth did never appear more both by 
land and sea. This makes France to cringe unto 
her so much ; this makes Spain to purchase peace 
of her with his Italian patacoons; this makes the 
Hollander to dash his colours and veil his bonnet 



i86 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

so low unto her; this makes the Italian princes, 
and all other states that have anything to do with 
the sea, to court her so much ; indeed, touching 
the Emperor and the Mediterranean princes of 
Germany, w^hom she cannot reach with her can- 
nons, they care not much for her. 

Nor indeed was the true art of governing Eng- 
land known till now. The sword is the surest sway 
over all people, who ought to be cudgelled rather 
than cajoled to obedience, if upon a glut of plenty 
and peace they should forget it. There is not 
such a windy, wavering thing in the world as the 
common people. They are got by an apple and 
lost for a pear; the elements themselves are not 
more inconstant. So that it is the worst solecism 
in government for a prince to depend merely upon 
their affections. Riches and long rest make them 
insolent and wanton. It was not Tarquin^s wan- 
tonness so much as the people's that ejected kings 
in Rome. It was the people's concupiscence as 
much as Don Rodrigo's lust that brought the 
Moors into Spain, etc. 

Touching the wealth of England, it never also 
appeared so much by public erogations and taxes, 
which the Long Parliament raised, insomuch that 
it may be said the last king was beaten by his own 
image more than anything else. Add hereunto 
that the world stands in admiration of the capac- 
ity and docibleness of the English, that persons 
of ordinary breeding, extraction and callings should 
become statesmen and soldiers, commanders and 



OF JAMES HOWELL 187 

councillors both in the art of war and mysteries of 
state, and know the use of the compass in so short 
a tract of time. 

I have many thanks to give you for the Span- 
ish discourse you pleased to send me. At our 
next conjuncture I shall give you an account of it. 
In the interim I pray let me have still a small cor- 
ner in your thoughts, while you possess a large 
room in mine, and ever shall while 

Jam, Howell. 

XLVIII 
To the R. H, the £. of S. 

My Lord, 

SINCE my last, that which is the greatest sub- 
ject of our discourses and hopes here is the 
issue of our treaty with the Dutch. It is a piece 
that hath been a good while on the anvil, but it 
is not hammered yet to any shape. The Parlia- 
ment likewise hath many things in debate, which 
may be called yet but embryos ; in time they may 
be hatched into Acts. 

The Pope, they write, hath been of late danger- 
ously sick, but hath been cured in a strange way 
by. a young Padua doctor, who, having killed a 
lusty young mule, clapped the patient's body 
naked in the paunch thereof, by which gentle 
fomentation he recovered him of the tumours he 
had in his knees and elsewhere. 



ii88 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Donna Olympia sways most, and hath the high- 
est ascendant over him, so that a gentleman writes 
to me from Rome that among other pasquils this 
was one, Papa magis amat Olympiam quam Olym- 
pum. He writes of another, that the bread being 
not long since grown scant, and made coarser than 
ordinary by reason of the tax His Holiness laid 
upon corn, there was a pasquil fixed upon a cor- 
ner-stone of his palace, " Beatissime Pater fac ut 
hi lapides fiant panes " (O blessed Father, grant 
that these stones be made bread). But it was an 
odd character that our countryman Doctor B. gave 
lately of him, who being turned Roman Catholic, 
and expecting a pension, and having one day 
attended His Holiness a long time about it, he at 
last broke away suddenly. A friend of his asking 
why, he replied, " It is to no purpose for me to 
stay longer, for I know he will give me nothing, 
because I find by his physiognomy that he hath a 
negative face." It is true he is one of the hardest- 
favoured Popes that sat in the Chair a great while, 
so that some call him, " U huomo de tre pele '* 
(The man with three hairs), for he hath no more 
beard upon his chin. 

St Mark is still tugging with the Great Turk, 
and hath banged him ill-fa vouredly this summer 
in Dalmatia by land, and before the Dardanelles 
by sea. 

Whereas your Lordship writes for my "Lustra 
Ludovici," or the history of the last French King 
and his Cardinal, I shall ere long serve your Lord- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 189 

ship with one of a new edition, and with some en- 
largements. I humbly thank your Lordship for 
the favourable, and indeed too high a character you 
please to give of my " Survey of Venice ; " yet 
there are some who would detract from it, and 
(which I believe your Lordship will something 
wonder at) they are Cavaliers, but the shallowest 
and silliest sort of them ; and such may well de- 
serve the epithet of malignants. — So I humbly 
kiss your hands in quality of your Lordship's 
most obedient and ever obliged servant, 

J.H. 



XLIX 

To the Right Honourable the Earl Rivers, at his 
House in ^een Street 

My Lord, 

THE least command of yours is enough to 
set all my intellectuals on work, therefore I 
have done something, as your Lordship shall find 
herewith, relating to that gallant piece called the 
" Gallery of Ladies," which my Lord Marquis 
of Winchester (your brother) hath set forth. 

Upon the Glorious Work of the Lord Marquis of 
Winchester 
I . The world of ladies must be honoured much. 
That so sublime a personage, that such 
A noble peer and pen should thus display 
Their virtues, and expose them to the day. 



I90 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

2. His praises are like those coruscant beams 
Which Phoebus on high rocks of crystal streams; 
The matter and the agent grace each other. 

So Danae did when Jove made her a mother. 

3. Queens, countesses, and ladies go unlock 
Your cabinets, draw forth your richest stock 
Of jewels, and his coronet adorn 

With rubies, pearl, and sapphires yet unworn. 

4. Rise early, gather flowers now in the spring. 
Twist wreaths of laurel, and fresh garlands bring. 
To crown the temples of this high-born peer. 
And make him your Apollo all the year : 

And when his soul shall leave this earthly mine. 
Then offer sacrifice unto his shrine. 

I send also the elegy upon the late Earl of 
Dorset, which your Lordship spake of so much 
when I waited on you last, and I believe your 
Lordship will find therein every inch of that noble 
peer characterised inwardly and outwardly. 

An Elegy upon the Most Accomplished and Heroic Lord, 
Edward, Earl of Dorset, Lor? Chamberlain to his 
late Majesty of Great Britain, and Knight of the Most 
Noble Order of the Garter, etc. 

The quality of the times. 
His admired perfections. 
His goodly person. 
Alluding J His ancient pedigree. 

to \ His coat of arms crested with a star. 
The condition of mortality. 
The passion of the author, closing with an 
epitaph. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 191 

Lords have been long declining (we well know) 
And making their last testaments, but now 
They are defunct, they are extinguished all. 
And never like to rise by this lord's fall ; 

A lord, whose intellectuals alone 
Might make a house of peers, and prop a throne. 
Had not so dire a fate hung o'er the crown. 
That privilege prerogative should drown ; 

Where'er he sat he swayed, and courts did awe. 
Gave bishops gospel and the judges law 
With such exalted reasons, which did flow 
So clear and strong, that made Astrea bow 
To his opinion, for where he did side 
Advantaged more than half the bench beside. 

But is great Sackville dead ? Do we him lack. 
And will not all the elements wear black ? 
Whereof he was composed a perfect man 
As ever nature in one frame did span. 
Such high-born thoughts, a soul so large and free. 
So clear a judgment and vast memory. 
So princely, hospitable, and brave a mind. 
We must not think in haste on earth to find. 
Unless the times would turn to gold again. 
And nature get new strength in forming men. 

His person with it such a state did bring. 
That made a court as if he 'had been King, 
No wonder, since he was so near akin 
To Norfolk's Duke, and the great maiden Queen. 

He courage had enough by conquering one. 
To have confounded that whole nation ; 
Those parts which single do in some appear 
Were all concentred here in one bright sphere ; 

For brain, tongue, spirit, heart and personage. 
To mould up such a lord will ask an age ; 
But how durst pale white-livered death seize on 
So dauntless and heroic a champion ? 



192 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Yes, to die once is that uncancelled debt 

Which nature claims, and raiseth by escheat 

On all mankind by an old statute passed 

Primo Adami, which will always last 

Without repeal, nor can a second lease 

Be had of life, when the first term doth cease. 

Mount, noble soul, among the stars take place. 

And make a new one of so bright a race ; 

May Jove outshine, that Venus still may be 

In a benign conjunction with thee. 

To check that planet which on lords hath lowered. 

And such malign influxes lately powered; 

Be now a star thyself for those which here 

Did on thy crest and upper robes appear. 

For thy director take that star we read 

Which to thy Saviour's birth three kings did lead. 

A Corollary 

Thus have I blubbered out some tears and verse 
On this renowned heroe and his herse, 
• And could my eyes have dropped down pearls upon it. 
In lieu of tears, God knows, I would have done it ; 
But tears are real, pearls for their emblems go. 
The first are fitter to express my woe : 
Let this small mite suffice until I may 
A larger tribute to his ashes pay ; 

In the meantime this epitaph shall shut. 

And to my elegy a period put. 

Here lies a grandee by birth, parts, and mind. 
Who hardly left his parallel behind ; 
Here lies the man of men, who should have been 
An emperor, had fate or fortune seen. 

Totus in lachrymas solutus, sic singultivit, 

J.H. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 193 

So I most humbly kiss your Lordship^s hands, 
and rest in the highest degree of service and affec- 
tion ever most ready at your Lordship's command, 

J. H. 

London, 20 December. 



To T. Herris, Esquire 

YOURS of December the tenth I had the sec- 
ond of this Januai-y, and I account it a good 
augury that it came so seasonably to usher in the 
New Year and to cheer up my thoughts, which 
your letters have a virtue to do always whensoever 
they come, they are so full of quaint and copious 
quick expressions. When the Spaniards, at their 
first coalition in the West Indies, did begin to 
mingle with the Americans, that silly people 
thought 'that those little white papers and letters 
which the "Spaniards used to send one to another 
were certain kinds of conjurers or spirits that used 
to go up and down to tell tales and make discov- 
eries. Among other examples, I remember to have 
read one of an Indian boy sent from a Mexico 
merchant to a captain with a basket of figs and a 
letter. The boy in the way did eat some of them, 
and the captain, after he had read the letter, asked 
him what became of the rest, whereat the boy 
stood all astonished ; and being sent with another 
basket a little after to the same party, his maw 



194 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

began to yearn again after some of the figs, but he 
first took the letter and clapped it under a great 
stone hard by, upon which he sat while he was 
eating, thinking thereby that the spirit in the let- 
ter could not discover him, etc. Whether your 
letters be spirits or no, I will not dispute ; but I am 
sure they beget new spirits in me, and quod efficit 
tale illud ipsum est magis tale. If I am possessed 
with melancholy, they raise a spirit of mirth in me. 
If my thoughts are contracted with sadness, they 
presently dilute them into joy, etc., as if they had 
some subtle invisible atoms whereby they operate, 
which is now an old philosophy newly furbished 
and much cried up, that all natural actions and 
motions are performed by emission of certain 
atoms, whereof there is a constant effluvium from 
all elementary bodies, and are of divers shapes, 
some angular, others cylindrical, some spherical, 
which atoms are still hovering up and down 
and never rest till they meet with some pores 
proportionable and cognate unto their figures, 
where they acquiesce. By the expiration of such 
atoms, the dog finds the scent as he hunts, the 
pestilence infects, the loadstone attracts iron, the 
sympathetic powder or Zaphyrian salt calcined 
by Apollinian heat ; operating in July and Au- 
gust till it come to a lunary complexion, — I say, 
by the virtue and intervention of such atoms, it is 
found that this said powder heals at: a distance 
without topical applications to the place ajffected. 
They who are of this opinion hold that all sublu- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 195 

nary bodies operate thus by atoms as the heavenly 
bodies do by their influences. Now, it is more 
visible in the loadstone than any other body, for 
by help of artificial glasses a kind of mist hath 
been discerned to expire out of it, as Dr High- 
more doth acutely, and so much like a philo- 
sopher observe. For my part I think it more con- 
gruous to reason and to the course of nature that 
all actions and motions should be thus performed 
by such little atomical bodies than by accidents 
and qualities, which are but notional things, hav- 
ing only an imaginary subsistence and no essence 
of themselves at all but as they inhere in some 
other. If this philosophy be true, it were no great 
absurdity to think that your letters have a kind 
of atomical energy which operates upon my spirits, 
as I formerly told you. 

The times continue still untoward and trouble- 
some ; therefore, now that you and I carry above 
a hundred years upon our backs, and that those 
few grains of sand which remain in the brittle 
glasses of our lives are still running out, it is time, 
my dear Tom, for us to think on that which of 
all future things is the most certain, I mean our 
last removal and emigration hence to another 
world. It is time to think on that little hole of 
earth which shall hold us at last. The time was 
that you and I had all the fair continent of Europe 
before us to range in. We have been since con- 
fined to an island, and now Lincoln holds you and 
London me. We must expect the day that sick- 



196 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ness will confine us to our chambers, then to our 
beds, and so to our graves, the dark, silent grave 
which will put a period to our pilgrimage in this 
world. And observable it is what rnethod nature 
doth use in contracting our liberty thus by degrees, 
as a worthy gentleman observes. 

But though this small bagfull of bones be so 
confined, yet the noblest part of us may be said to 
be then set at liberty, when, having shaken off this 
slough of flesh, she mounts up to her true country, 
the country of eternity, where one moment of 
joy is more than if we enjoyed all the pleasures 
of this world a million of years here among the 
elements. 

But till our threads are spun up let us continue 
to enjoy ourselves as well as we can. Let those 
grains I spoke of before run gently by their own 
motion without jogging the glass by any perturba- 
tion of mind or musing too much upon the times. 

Man's life is nimble and swift enough of itself 
without the help of a spur or any violent motion ; 
therefore he spoke like a true philosopher, who 
excepted against the title of a book called " De 
Statu Vitae," for he should rather have entitled it 
" De cursu Vitae," for this, life is still upon the 
speed. 

You and I have luckily met abroad under 
many meridians ; when our course is run here, 
I hope we shall meet in a region that is above the 
wheel of time, and it may be in the concave of 
some star (if those glorious lamps are habitable). 



OF JAMES HOWELL 197 

Howsoever my genius prompts me, that when I 
part hence I shall not downwards, for I had al- 
ways soaring thoughts, being but a boy, at which 
time I had a mighty desire to be a bird, that I 
might fly towards the sky. 

So my long-endeared friend and fellow-traveller, 
I rest yours verily and invariably, 

J. H. 

Holborn, 10 January. 



To the Sagacious Reader 

Ut clavis portam, sic pandit epistola pectus ; 
Clauditur haec cera, clauditur ilia sera. 

As keys do open chests, 
So letters open breasts. 



TEAOS 



Gloria Lausq ; Deo Saeculorum in saecula sunto 

A Doxological Chronogram including this present 
year, MDCLV., and hath numeral letters 
enough to extend to the year nine- 
teen hundred twenty-seven, if 
it please God this world 
shall last so long. 



AD LIBRUM 

Sine me, liber, ibis in Aulam, 
Hei mihi, quod domino non licet ire tuo. 

TO HIS BOOK 

Thou mayest to Court, and progress to and fro, 
Oh, that thy captived master could do so. 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
U . S • A